What is genocide?
Dr. Laura Graham
“A crime that has no name”
'Geno' = tribe/race
'cide' = killing
“By genocide, we mean the [intentional] destruction of
a nation or of an ethnic group”(79).
“Genocide is directed against the national group as an
entity, and the actions involved are directed against
individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as
members of the national group”(79).
Genocide has two phases:
• “destruction of the national pattern of the
oppressed group” (79)
• “the imposition of the national pattern of the
Techniques of Genocide
• Political: cessation of self-government; replaced by
administration of oppressor.
• Social: attacks the intelligentsia.
• Cultural: bans native language, culture, freedom of
• Economic: shift resources from the occupied to the
• Biological: decrease birth rate of occupied.
• Physical: food rationing; mass killing.
• Religious: disrupt national/religious influence.
• Moral: weaken the spiritual resistance of oppressed.
Lemkin advocated for the inclusion of "cultural
genocide" in the UNCG:
"If the culture of a group is violently undermined, the group itself
disintegrates and its members must either become absorbed into
other cultures which is a wasteful and painful process or succumb to
personal disorganization and physical destruction [...][Therefore] the
destruction of cultural symbols is genocide." (Lemkin)
Why did “cultural genocide” not make it into the UN Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment of Genocide?
Genocide is..."sustained, purposeful action by a perpetrator to
physically destroy a collectivity directly or indirectly, through
interdiction of the biological and social reproduction of group
members, sustained regardless of the surrender or lack of threat
offered by the victim" (Helen Fein, 1993, p.24).
Genocide occurs when..."a government or some group acts to
eliminate a whole group of people, whether by directly killing
them or by creating conditions that lead to their death or
inability to reproduce" (Ervin Staub, 2011, p.100).
UN Genocide Convention Article 2
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
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another
UN Genocide Convention Article 3
Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.
Mass murder is..."the killing (or in other ways
destroying) members of a group without the
intention to eliminate the whole group, or killing
large numbers of people [...] without the focus
necessarily on group membership" (Staub, 1989,
p.8; 2012, p.35).
Genocide vs. Democide
Key components of genocide:
• Intent and Purposeful Action against an
• No restriction on number killed.
Democide is "any intentional government
murder of unarmed and helpless people for
whatever reason" (Rummel, 2002).
• Applies to non-indelible groups.
• Does UNGC adequately define genocide? What are
some strengths and deficiencies?
• Why do you think cultural genocide was excluded
from the final UNGC?
• How do academic definitions of genocide compare to
the UNGC definition?
• What is the benefit of having a formally recognized
term “genocide” for the prevention and punishment
of mass murder and other acts equating to the
destruction of an indelible group?
• Lemkin, R. (1944) Axis Rule in Occupied Europe
Chapter 9 “Genocide”.
• UN Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of Genocide.
• Moses, D. (2010) Oxford Handbook of
Genocide Studies Chapter 1 “Raphael Lemkin,
Culture, and the Concept of Genocide”.
• Discuss with your classmates the potential
genocide case studies that could be used for oral
• Form groups of 2-3 and begin
discussing/researching your case study.
• Compile an indicative bibliography for your case
study with 3-5 references and email to
• Be prepared by the end of activity to identify your
case study and your group members.
• Begin working on essay 1 (due Fri 2/13)
• Read Oxford Handbook Chapters 4 & 6 (available
in Tisch library reserves).
• Read Bloxham article on Trunk.
• Begin reading Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem
(available in Tisch library reserves).