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The Struggle for Universal Human Rights - Essay Example

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The Struggle for Universal Human Rights

This low incidence of intervention seems at odds with the agreement entered into by most countries in the Genocide Convention of 1948 wherein they committed, under Art 1, "to prevent and to punish"2 the crime of genocide. Could this failure to intervene in the genocidal activities of sovereign states be rooted on the inability of the human rights movement to propel international action The case of Darfur provides a timely opportunity to examine the truth of that theory.
It is imperative that a definition of genocide be explored and established first since much of the controversy surrounding international inaction today are in many ways related to the very definition and application of the term "genocide". As is best exemplified by Shelly's wordplay above, the definition and use of the term genocide has been muddled by political stratagems which seem to follow an unspoken rule to never use the term at all costs. Instead of the term "genocide", terms such as "ethnic violence", "ethnic cleansing", "acts of genocide", and "civil war" have become the trademark of the politically-savvy. It would be as though by avoiding the term genocide, a humanitarian crisis such as Rwanda or Darfur would cease to be genocide and transform into something more palatable to the taste. We must thus resort back to the definition of genocide agreed upon by the same international community before they actually found themselves bound to make good on such definition. In the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the following definition is clearly detailed:
"Article 2
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." 3

Based on Lemkin's definition of genocide as "the coordinated and planned annihilation of a national, religious, or racial group by a variety of actions aimed at undermining the foundations essential to the survival of the group as a group,"4 the definition above has been ratified by more than 100 member countries of the United Nations and continues to be in force today. For some, the Genocide Convention which enforces this definition was seen to usher in a new era for the global human rights movement especially in regards to combating genocide. Not only did it provide a clear definition of the crime of ...Show more


The global human rights movement, led by international non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations such as the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, seems to be fighting a lost battle against genocide…
Author : gwendolyn60
The Struggle for Universal Human Rights essay example
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