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United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Crime of Genocide

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or the Genocide Convention, is an international treaty that criminalizes genocide and obligates state parties to pursue the enforcement of its prohibition.
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At a Glance

Reading

Language

English — US

Subject

  • History
  • Social Studies
  • Genocide

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948. It went into effect in January 1951. The United States joined the convention in 1988. The text reflects Raphael Lemkin’s ideas and tireless campaign to outlaw crimes of mass violence against minorities. For more information about this convention see “Reading 4: Lemkin and the Nuremberg Trials” in Totally Unofficial: Raphael Lemkin and the Genocide Convention.

The Contracting Parties,

Having considered the declaration made by the General Assembly of the United
Nations in its resolution 96 (I) dated 11 December 1946 that genocide is a crime
under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and
condemned by the civilized world,

Recognizing that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on
humanity, and

Being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge,
international co-operation is required,

Hereby agree as hereinafter provided:

Article I
The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace
or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent
and to punish.

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:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its
physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Article III
The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.

Article IV
Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall
be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or
private individuals.

Article V
The Contracting Parties undertake to enact, in accordance with their respective
Constitutions, the necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions of the present
Convention, and, in particular, to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of
genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III.

Article VI
Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III
shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act
was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with
respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction. . . .

Article VIII
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations
to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider
appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the
other acts enumerated in article III.

Article IX
Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application
or fulfillment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility
of a State for genocide or for any of the other acts enumerated in article III, shall be
submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to
the dispute. 1

  • 1Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Prevent Genocide International website, http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/text.htm (accessed on October 3, 2005).

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History and Ourselves, "United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Crime of Genocide," last updated September 14, 2022, https://www.facinghistory.org/.
This reading contains text not authored by Facing History and Ourselves. See footnotes for source information.

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