Genocide Convention

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG), or Genocide Convention, is an international treaty that criminalizes genocide and obligates state parties to enforce its prohibition. It was the first legal instrument to codify genocide as a crime, and the first human rights treaty unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, on 9 December 1948.[1] The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951 and has 152 state parties.[2][3][Note 1]

Genocide Convention
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
Signed9 December 1948
Effective12 January 1951
Parties152 (complete list)
DepositarySecretary-General of the United Nations

The Genocide Convention was conceived largely in response to World War II, which saw atrocities such as the Holocaust that lacked an adequate description or legal definition. Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, who had coined the term genocide in 1944 to describe Nazi policies in occupied Europe, campaigned for its recognition as a crime under international law.[4] This culminated in 1946 in a landmark resolution by the General Assembly that recognized genocide as an international crime and called for the creation of a binding treaty to prevent and punish its perpetration.[5] Subsequent discussions and negotiations among UN member states resulted in the CPPCG.

The Convention defines genocide as an intentional effort to completely or partially destroy a group based on its nationality, ethnicity, race, or religion. It recognizes several acts as constituting genocide, such as imposing birth control and forcibly transferring children, and further criminalizes complicity, attempt, or incitement of its commission. Member states are prohibited from engaging in genocide and obligated to enforce this prohibition even if violative of national sovereignty. All perpetrators are to be tried regardless of whether they are private individuals, public officials, or political leaders with sovereign immunity.

The CPPCG has influenced law at both the national and international level. Its definition of genocide has been adopted by international and hybrid tribunals, such as the International Criminal Court, and incorporated into the domestic law of several countries.[6] Its provisions are widely considered to be reflective of customary law and therefore binding on all nations whether or not they are parties. The International Court of Justice has likewise ruled that the principles underlying the Convention represent a peremptory norm against genocide that no government can derogate.[7]