AN APPRAISAL OF THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW
1.1 Background of the Study
Genocide as an experience of human behavior throughout history is old, but our concern and understanding about it are relatively new. Humans have probably been committing genocide since the beginning of our species. Killing in mass and committing crimes against other human groups is not new to human history. Human groups have considered, and unfortunately still consider genocide as a viable political course of action, contemplating the intentional destruction of other groups national, ethnic, racial or religious, in whole or in part, in such a way as defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
However, it is only in recent years that we have come to acknowledge genocide more systematically, trying to articulate understandings that were simply unavailable to our ancestors. There was a long delay in recognizing genocide as a crime despite its recurrence throughout human history. As a human race, we did not even have a name to describe genocidal violence before the World War II when Raphael Lemkin coined the term “genocide. ”Until then, it was a crime without a name in the words of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The systematic mass murder of millions of people in the Holocaust, however, forced us to recognize that humans were killing other humans in systematic ways, with the intent to destroy groups in whole or in part, with terrifying results .
The UN Genocide Convention of 1948 emerged as the legal response, stipulating a detailed and quite technical definition as a crime against the law of nations which then engendered debates among scholars for decades to follow .Yet wilful neglect prevailed in spite of numerous genocides in the later half of the 20th century, the world‟s leaders were mindful of what was unfolding and yet stood by and negligently let the crimes transpire. This indifference was partly justified by political calculations that made sense to the perpetratorsand was tolerated by a desire to avoid intervention in violent strife by leaders of other countries who were desensitized by ideology to the Violence inflicted on the mass of victims and their communities. Genocide and mass atrocities also threaten the core of state interest.