Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Genocide Convention

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was approved by the United Nations General Assembly on this date in 1948. It entered into force on January 12, 1951.

Article 2 states:

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 United States signed the Genocide Convention on December 11, 1948. Ratification came almost forty years later, on November 25, 1988.

On January 11, 1967, Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin began a personal crusade to secure U.S. ratification of the Genocide Convention. He gave a speech that day on the floor of the United States Senate urging ratification. It was the first of 3,211 original and unique speeches--one each day that the Senate was in session--that he would give over the course of the next nineteen years regarding the need to ratify the Genocide Convention.