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Genocide on the Drina River

Adoption of the Convention meant the "crime without a name" not only got a name but was also potentially punishable. However, except for a handful of individual cases at national courts in Europe, which processed a number of the crimes committed during the Second World War, the Convention was not used in addressing mass atrocities that could have qualified as genocide. The Cold War was a crucial factor in the "inaction" of the Convention.

In the atmosphere that accompanied this bipolar paradigm, it was impossible to establish an international criminal court at which the Convention could be applied. It was only after the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda in the s that international criminal law established precedents for punishing the crime of genocide and applied the Convention in practice.

While the extermination of Jews in Europe during the Holocaust motivated Raphael Lemkin to define the worst crime against humanity so that politicians would try to prevent it, there are others who have accepted part of this legacy but have made a departure from Lemkin's inclusive approach in defining genocide and from the obligation of the international community to stop it. Stephen T. Katz represents the scholarly movement which insists that the Holocaust is the only true genocide in history.

Despite conducting an extensive comparative historical analysis, Katz has not given up on a very high, almost unreachable standard for defining genocidal crimes. Orientalist Bernard Lewis also seems to support the opinion that no case of mass murder except the Holocaust can be labeled as genocide. Lewis has, by this logic, denied the genocide against Armenians. He told the French newspaper Le Monde that the killing of 1. Increasingly, though, theoreticians have been deconstructing this thesis, and crimes committed in the Ottoman Empire against Armenians are widely recognized as genocide in scholarly literature.

Debate between scholars who advocate for exclusivity of the Holocaust and those who argue that other cases of mass violence also fit the definition of genocide has been highly polemical. According to Martin Shaw, "In this debate, recognition of other cases—historical like Armenia, and contemporary, such as Rwanda—often depends on establishing a connection to the Holocaust.


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Their credibility has been supported by extensive empirical comparative research and sound arguments. The work of these scholars attests to how essential the comparative method is in genocide research; the variety of examples of genocide throughout history offers scholars a chance to identify common characteristics, which can help lead to the detection of genocide while in its preparation phases, prior to its perpetration.

There are issues about which these more inclusive researchers also disagree, but they share many more points of consensus that are developing theoretical concepts which distinguish genocide from other mass and systematic state crimes. Israel Charny is among those who argue for a significantly more inclusive definition of genocide. He asserts that genocide is a generic term and that all known mass murders of people should be defined as genocide. Hence, he defines genocide as "mass killing of substantial numbers of human beings, when not in the course of military actions against the military forces of an avowed enemy, under conditions of the essential defenselessness of the victim.

According to Charny, any "collateral damage"—as civilian casualties of war are often labeled in modern warfare parlance—may be considered genocide, and the result of genocidal acts. Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, on the other hand, argue that it is inappropriate to compare the intent of Turks to annihilate Armenians or of Germans to exterminate Jews with American military interventions, because "the USA never intended to destroy the Germans, Japanese and Vietnamese as a group, while leaders of Turkey and Nazi Germany did intend to annihilate Armenians and Jews.

In his monograph Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century, Kuper divides genocide into three types, according to the motives of perpetrators:. The problem with these kinds of genocide typologies is that it is difficult to strictly apply them to reality, since perpetrators never have only one motive.

The genocide in Rwanda, for example, was motivated by ethnic differences, but—if we take into account the country's longtime colonial status and the interests of some very powerful countries—it was, in a way, the consequence of colonization. In order to mobilize a population for any genocide, a very extremist ideology must have influence.

Therefore, according to Kuper's typology, the case of the last Rwandan genocide could fall under each of his three types. In his book published in , The Prevention of Genocide, Kuper shifted his attention to evaluating the potential of the international community, NGOs that deal with human rights, and other legal bodies to prevent genocide. Nevertheless, his work is characterized by a very wide interpretation of the term.

Kuper treats the nuclear attack against Japan, the American military intervention in Vietnam, and the bombing of Dresden as genocide. Apart from the sociological analysis of different cases, authors who advocate a comparative and more inclusive approach have also made attempts to develop their own definitions of genocide, in response to a lack of precision in the definition given in the U. Helen Fein's, though worded differently, echoes the spirit of the Convention: "Genocide is sustained purposeful action by a perpetrator to physically destroy a collectivity directly or through interdiction of the biological and social reproduction of group members, sustained regardless of the surrender or lack of threat offered by the victim.

For the sake of analysis, however, as well as for the sake of genocide prevention, even those who recognize faults in the U.

Genocide on the Drina River | Foreign Affairs

Convention generally accept it, because political controversies of the sort that surrounded the initial drafting of the Convention and then its ratification are even more insidious in the current international environment. Amid the circumstances and power balance within the United Nations, one cannot hope that a better, legally binding definition will be developed in the near future. Along these lines, Kuper has distinguished between his moral stance that genocide be understood very broadly and his academic recommendation that, for functional reasons, the international community adhere to the definition of genocide as stated in the U.

I shall follow the definition of genocide given in the [U.

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