- Slides: 12
Genocide – introducing the concept Events of World War II constituted an impulse for the international community to accept legal regulations which would penalise genocide. After World War II the legal system proved unable to persecute World War II criminals. Consequently, Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg were charged under other articles – formally, they were not accused of genocide. The term „genocide” was created by a Polish Jew, a lawyer, Rafał Lemkin (1900 -1959). Most of his family were victims of the Holocaust. Even before the war, Lemkin lobbied for penalisation of mass murders committed with the aim of destroying social, racial or religious groups. His actions, however, were not successful. After the war, he was among people who actively joined in the effort to pass an international convention. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 th December 1948. Poland ratified it on 18 th July 1950.
Genocide according to the Convention ”In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 1. Killing members of the group; 2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. ”
Problems with definition The definition excludes such concepts as „political groups” (e. g. the kulaks) or „cultural genocide” (Native Americans). The term „genocidal intent” similarly poses problems. Dispute on the definition of this term arises in connection with Ukrainian famine of 1932 -33. The question whether soviet authorities intended to kill much of the Ukrainian nation or simply failed to cope with famine, causing many deaths, is a constant subject of discussion. These and many other disputes over the definition of genocide result in lack of one binding definition.
Suggestion of a definition Helen Fein, a famous genocide scholar, considers genocide „sustained purposeful action by a perpetrator to physically destroy a collectivity directly (through murder) or indirectly, through interdiction of the biological and social reproduction of group members, sustained regardless of the surrender or lack of threat offered by the victim”. In the state of war, genocide is characterised by continuation of military intervention despite the surrender of victims. At the same time, a mere fact of (limited) defence does not exclude the victims from the pool of genocide victims. What is more, a fundamental asymmetry is indicated, i. e. the advantage perpetrators have over victims, which may turn any military action into slaughter. An example of such a situation may be seen in Jewish uprisings in ghettos suppressed by Germans, not without victims, with ruthless systematic cruelty.
“Genocide” versus “ethnic cleansing” The concept of „ethnic cleansing” became common during wars in disintegrating Yugoslavia. Unlike genocide, ethnic cleansing does not aim to eliminate part or all of a particular ethnic category, but to remove it from a disputed territory. It may be defined as purposeful actions of perpetrators designed to remove a certain collectivity from a disputed territory. It may be legal (flight and expulsion of Germans after WWII) or illegal according to international law. Mass murders, rapes and tortures are common methods of cleansing a territory. „Ethnic cleansing” is not a legal term and thus its various definitions may be found in literature.
Examples of genocide in 20 th century according to Lech Nijakowski 1. Slaughter of Armenians by Turks (1915 -1916) 2. Nazi genocide of Jews and Roma 3. Red Khmers genocide in Cambodia 1975 -1979 4. Genocide in Rwanda in 1994
Examples of genocide in 20 th century according to sociological definitions The sociological definitions of genocide widen the pool of victims. Considering the definition we should mention, e. g. the Indonesian massacre of suspected communists (1965 – 1966; Indonesia was a US ally), genocide at the time of separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan (creation of Bangladesh – 1971), Burundi genocide from 1972 (a Rwanda neighbour ruled by Tutsis who killed a great many Hutus), gassing and murdering in many other ways the Kurds by Saddam Hussein in 1988 during the Anfal campaign (it’s worth mentioning that he was then supported by the US), slaughter of native Mayan population in Guatemala between 1981 and 1983 (with Washington’s support).
Genocide in the Balkans? The Balkan war attracted the attention of many scholars to the issue of genocide and ethnic cleansing. When referred to the Balkans, the term „genocide” was abused, and often accompanied by ideological simplifications and placing one of the nations (mostly the Serbs) in the role of bloodthirsty beasts murdering other nations with passion. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, such an interpretation resulted from indictments put forward by International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – ICTY, which resorted to indictments for genocide (the massacres were referred to as „acts of genocide”).
Genocide in the Balkans? Ethnic cleansing took place not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also during the earlier conflict in Croatia (huge ethnic cleansing in Krajina). Cruelty of the Bosnian war resulted mainly from mixed territories of three fighting nations: Serbs 31. 4% of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s inhabitants in 1991, while in 41. 4% of places they constituted 50% and more of inhabitants), Croats (17. 3%) and Bosnians (43. 47%’). Marek Waldenberg defined this ethnic map as a „leopard-skin”. These were not only soldiers of the warring parties who committed the massacres, but also civilians and paramilitary groups. Arkan, the leader of „Tigers” was notorious for massacres. All parties created camps where enemies were kept and subjected to acts of cruelty. The conflict then was strictly connected with a number of ethnic cleansings and massacres which were aimed at chasing away enemy population from disputed territories.
Genocide in the Balkans? Both the conflict escalation in the second Yugoslavia and the later war are an example of multiple mistakes made by world powers and international organisations. The conflict escalation was induced by hasty acceptance of the declaration of independence by the Yugoslav republics. For a long time to come no satisfactory model of intervention was developed or effective actions were taken. Joining in NATO military operations was a qualitative change in the UN policy. Resolution 776, adopted on 14 September 1992 constituted legal basis for this change. Simultaneous actions of the UN protection force (UNPROFOR) and NATO led, however, to multiple conflicts. Differences in approach of the two forces were to blame: UNPROFOR practiced traditional peacekeeping operations and NATO used military intervention, especially in terms of airspace control. Surrendering „safe haven” in Srebrenica without a fight, which lead to a massacre of boys and men, symbolised failure of international forces. Finally, imperfect peace agreement was initialled on 25 th November 1995 in Dayton and finally signed on 14 th December 1995 in Paris. The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still unstable.
Srebrenica - a town and municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, predominantly inhabited by the Muslim community, the place of the biggest massacre in post-war Europe, which took place in July 1995. On April 16 th 1993 United Nations Security Council declared Srebrenica a „safe haven”, and 400 Dutch soldiers – a part of UNPROFOR – were sent there to protect it. On July 11 th 1995, the Bosnian Serbs, lead by Ratko Mladic, entered the town of Srebrenica and, encountering no resistance on the part of the Dutch soldiers, commenced a few days’ slaughter of Muslims. They murdered approximately 8 thousand men and young boys, approximately 25 thousand women, children and elders were expelled towards territories under the control of Bosnian Government. On November 14 th 1995 International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague charged leaders of Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for genocide, crimes against humanity as well as violation of the laws and customs of war in reference to Srebrenica. International Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that the massacre in Srebrenica was a genocide. Estimated total number of casualties is 8100
Sources: Lech M. Nijakowski, Cień XX wieku. Możliwość ochrony ludności cywilnej w czasie czystek etnicznych i ludobójstw http: //www. stosunkimiedzynarodowe. info/haslo, Srebrenica http: //www. pk. org. pl/artykul. php? id=473 Author: Magdalena Kawa