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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

Chapter 7 - The Conventional Account of Genocide: from a Restrictive to an Expansive Interpretation


To this point, we have used the Conventional account of genocide to establish that Indigenous Nations did experience genocides during the British settler colonial conquest of North America, and that as a general matter this fact should no longer be up for debate, and certainly not the denial that (as Chapter 1 attests) has prevailed for far too long with respect to Indigenous Nations. The number, duration, and extent of these genocides is, of course, another issue; we have attempted to provide a workable and accessible methodology to aid in making such determinations effective and convincing. That methodology draws upon the definition of genocide formulated within the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UNGC or Genocide Convention) and subsequently enhanced by diverse international legal fora, including the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the Former Yugoslavia, the various hybrid tribunals, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court as well as evolving customary international law. Despite the procedural elaborations afforded by its application in these diverse venues, this account of genocide (which we have referred to as the Conventional account) is widely regarded (especially by historians and sociologists, as well as genocide studies and Indigenous studies scholars) as narrow, restrictive, conservative or formalistic. However, since it already has secured broad international currency and support, it can help us sidestep the confusing welter of inconsistent definitions in which genocide scholarship outside of legal contexts often finds itself mired.