Saturday, January 21, 2012

Genocide In Cambodia?

A Look at the ‘Protected Groups’ in the 1948 Genocide Convention

By Anna R. Mumford

Anna Mumford, a third year student at Albany Law School with an interest in international criminal law, is a co-Executive Editor of International Law Studies. She has studied international law at the courts in the Hague, and she has worked as a legal associate with DC-Cam in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, an NGO which provides evidence to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). She is currently the Managing Editor for Business & Production for the Albany Government Law Review.
This paper was prepared for the International Law of War and Crime Seminar, Fall 2011.

The definition of genocide in the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is narrow: it is a crime committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, an enumerated group of people. While there have been many cases of targeted mass killings over the past half century—e.g., Nuremberg, Srebrenica, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur—some fail to satisfy the crime’s strict definitional elements.

Significantly, the mass atrocities in Cambodia from 1975–1979 have often been referred to as a genocide, yet most of the acts committed during that time do not legally constitute genocide under international law. While the perpetrators of these mass atrocities possessed the requisite intent to destroy, the vast majority of victims are not members of one of the protected groups.

This paper explores the legal definition of genocide, as outlined in the Genocide Convention, with an emphasis on the four specific protected groups. This paper seeks to show how the limitations of the definition of genocide have prevented prosecution of this crime in Cambodia.*
* Citations to references in this introduction are available in the paper.
To read the entire paper, open HERE.