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UN General Assembly Resolution on Genocide

UN General Assembly Resolution on Genocide

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introduction General Assembly Resolution 96(I) elevated the term genocide, first proposed by Raphael Lemkin in a scholarly work published two years earlier, to an internationally recognized crime. Resolution 96(I) mandated the United Nations to prepare a convention on the subject, and this process was completed two years later, in December 1948. The Resolution was initially proposed by Cuba, India, and Panama, who expressed their frustration with the definition of crimes against humanity used at Nuremberg. They argued that such serious atrocities should be punishable in peacetime as well as during war. Moreover, they urged the principle of universal jurisdiction over genocide, allowing its prosecution even by states with no direct link to the crime through either territory or nationality. The Resolution eliminated the troubling limitation to armed conflict that had been applied at Nuremberg, but failed to endorse the principle of universal jurisdiction. For reasons that remain obscure, the definition of genocide included political groups, but this was subsequently removed in the 1948 Convention.

Genocide is a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings; such denial of the right of existence shocks the conscience of mankind, results in great losses to humanity in the form of cultural and other contributions represented by these human groups, and is contrary to moral law and to the spirit and aims of the United nations.

Many instances of such crimes of genocide have occurred when racial, religious, political and other groups have been destroyed, entirely or in part.

The punishment of the crime of genocide is a matter of international concern.

The General Assembly, therefore,

Affirms that genocide is a crime under international law which the civilized world condemns, and for the commission of which principals and accomplices — whether private individuals, public officials or statesmen, and whether the crime is committed on religious, racial, political or any other grounds — are punishable;

Invites the Member States to enact the necessary legislation for the prevention and punishment of this crime;

Recommends that international co-operation be organized between States with a view to facilitating the speedy prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, and, to this end,

Requests the Economic and Social Council to undertake the necessary studies, with a view to drawing up a draft convention on the crime of genocide to be submitted to the next regular session of the General Assembly.

Fifty-fifth plenary meeting,

11 December 1946.

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