Genocide has occurred throughout the history of the world, pitting people against each other over issues of religion, land ownership, and power. One of millions of victims of the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s life is one of the most well-known in modern history, and her autobiography has been read by world leaders around the world, in many different translations, since it first was presented to the world by her father.
What is genocide? After World War II, the United Nations established a commission to determine how it would be defined. Here are the first articles of the resulting document:
Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.
The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
In the present Convention, 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 group;
- (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The following acts shall be punishable:
- (a) Genocide;
- (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
- (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
- (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
- (e) Complicity in genocide.
Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.