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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: December 2009

3 - Genocide


Since its first codification in the 1948 Genocide Convention, the international crime of genocide has been almost uniformly defined as the intended destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such, by one of six enumerated means. Article II of the Convention lists these six means in five subparagraphs, and Article III sets forth a number of associated ‘punishable acts’:

Article II

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:

Killing members of the group;

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III

The following acts shall be punishable:


Conspiracy to commit genocide;

Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

Attempt to commit genocide;

Complicity in genocide.

All subsequent formulations of the crime in the statutes of international and internationalised tribunals – including those of the ad hoc Tribunals, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the East Timor Special Panels for Serious Crimes (SPSC), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (SICT) – essentially replicate the language of Article II.