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Genocide Convention: Important Points

What Is Genocide Convention?

Ukraine has filed an application before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), instituting proceedings against Russia.

  • Ukraine has accused Russia of falsely claiming that “acts of genocide have occurred in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine”, and of using that as a pretext to recognise the independence of these regions and of going to war against Ukraine.
  • The dispute is concerning 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).
  • The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
  • It is the only one of the six principal organs of the UN that is not located in New York City.
  • It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the UN and began work in April 1946.
  • The court is the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was brought into being through, and by, the League of Nations.
  • PCIJ held its inaugural sitting at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, in February 1922.
  • After World War II, the League of Nations and PCIJ were replaced by the UN and ICJ respectively.
  • The PCIJ was formally dissolved in April 1946, and its last president, Judge José Gustavo Guerrero of El Salvador, became the first president of the ICJ.
  • Its role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized UN organs and specialized agencies.

Genocide Convention:

  • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) is an instrument of international law that codified for the first time the crime of genocide.
  • The Genocide Convention was the first human rights treaty adopted by the General Assembly of the UN on 9 December 1948.
  • It signified the international community’s commitment to ‘never again’ after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.
  • Its adoption marked a crucial step towards the development of international human rights and international criminal law as we know it today.
  • According to the Genocide Convention, genocide is a crime that can take place both in time of war as well as in time of peace.
  • The definition of the crime of genocide, as set out in the Convention, has been widely adopted at both national and international levels, including in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • Importantly, the Convention establishes on State Parties the obligation to take measures to prevent and to punish the crime of genocide, including by enacting relevant legislation and punishing perpetrators, “whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals” (Article IV).
  • That obligation, in addition to the prohibition not to commit genocide, have been considered as norms of international customary law and therefore, binding on all States, whether or not they have ratified the Genocide Convention.
  • India is a signatory to this convention.

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