Prevent Genocide International 

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
- the Secretariat and Ad Hoc Committee Drafts

Secretariat Draft
First Draft of the Genocide Convention,
Prepared by the UN Secretariat, [May] 1947 [UN Doc. E/447]

Preamble: The High Contracting Parties proclaim that Genocide, which is the intentional destruction of a group of human beings, defies universal conscience, inflicts irreparable loss on humanity by depriving it of the cultural and other contributions of the group so destroyed, and is in contradiction with the spirit and aims of the United Nations.

1. They appeal to the feelings of solidarity of all members of the international community and call upon them to oppose this odious crime.
2. They proclaim that the acts of genocide defined by the present Convention are crimes against the Law of Nations, and that the fundamental exigencies of civilization, international order and peace require their prevention and punishment.
3. They pledge themselves to prevent and to repress such acts wherever they may occur.

Article I: Definitions

I. [Protected groups] The purpose of this Convention is to prevent destruction of racial, national, linguistic, religious or political groups human beings.

II. [Acts qualified as Genocide] In this Convention, the word 'genocide' means a criminal act directed against any one of the aforesaid groups of human beings, with the purpose of destroying it in whole or in part or of preventing its preservation or development.

Such acts consist of:

1. [Physical genocide] Causing the death of members of a group or injuring their health or physical integrity by:

(a) group massacres or individual executions; or
(b) subjection to conditions of life which, by lack of proper housing, clothing, food, hygiene and medical care, or excessive work or physical exertion are likely to result in the debilitation or death of the individuals; or
(c) mutilations and biological experiments imposed for other than curative purposes; or
(d) deprivation of all means of livelihood, by confiscation of property, looting, curtailment of work, denial of housing and of supplies otherwise available to the other inhabitants of the territory concerned.

2. [Biological genocide] Restricting births by:

(a) sterilization and/or compulsory abortion; or
(b) segregation of the sexes; or
(c) obstacles to marriage.

3. [Cultural genocide] Destroying the specific characteristics of the group by:

(a) forcible transfer of children to another human group; or
(b) forced and systematic exile of individuals representing the culture of a group; or
(c) prohibition of the use of the national language even in private intercourse; or
(d) systematic destruction of books printed in the national language or of religious works or prohibition of new publications; or
(e) systematic destruction of historical or religious monuments or their diversion to alien uses, destruction or dispersion of documents and objects of historical, artistic, or religious value and of objects used in religious worship.

Article II: [Punishable offences]

I. The following are likewise deemed to be crimes of genocide:

1. Any attempt to commit genocide;
2. the following preparatory acts:

(a) studies and research for the purpose of developing the technique of genocide;
(b) setting up of installations, manufacturing, obtaining, possessing or supplying of articles or substances with the knowledge that they are intended for genocide;
(c) issuing instructions or orders, and distributing tasks with a view to committing genocide.

II. The following shall likewise be punishable:

1. wilful participation in acts of genocide of whatever description;
2. direct public incitement to any act of genocide whether the incitement be successful or not;
3. conspiracy to commit acts of genocide.

Article III: [Punishment of a Particular Offence] All forms of public propaganda tending by their systematic and hateful character to promote genocide, or tending to make it appear as a necessary, legitimate or excusable act shall be punished.

Article IV: [Persons Liable] Those committing genocide shall be punished, be they rulers, public officials or private individuals.

Article V: [Command of the Law and Superior Orders] Command of the law or superior orders shall not justify genocide.

Article VI: [Provisions Concerning Genocide in Municipal Criminal Law] The High Contracting Parties shall make provision in their municipal law for acts of genocide as defined by Articles I, II, and III, above, and for their effective punishment.

Article VII: [Universal Enforcement of Municipal Criminal Law] The High Contracting Parties pledge themselves to punish any offender under this Convention within any territory under their jurisdiction, irrespective of the nationality of the offender or of the place where the offence has been committed.

Article VIII [Extradition]
The High Contracting Parties declare that genocide shall not be considered as a political crime and therefore shall be grounds for extradition.

Article IX: [Trial of Genocide by an International Court]
The High Contracting Parties pledge themselves to commit all persons guilty of genocide under this Convention for trial to an international court in the following cases:

1. When they are unwilling to try such offenders themselves under Article VII or to grant their extradition under Article VIII.
2. If the acts of genocide have been committed by individuals acting as organs of the State or with the support or toleration of the State.

Article X: [International Court Competent to Try Genocide] Two drafts are submitted for this section:

1st draft: The court of criminal jurisdiction under Article IX shall be the International Court having jurisdiction in all matters connected with international crimes.
2nd draft: An international court shall be set up to try crimes of genocide (vide Annexes).

Article XI: [Disbanding of Groups or Organizations Having Participated in Genocide] The High Contracting Parties pledge themselves to disband any group or organization which has participated in any act of genocide mentioned in Articles I, II, and III, above.

Article XII: [Action by the United Nations to Prevent or to Stop Genocide] Irrespective of any provision in the foregoing articles, should the crimes as defined in this Convention be committed in any part of the world, or should there be serious reasons for suspecting that such crimes have been committed, the High Contracting Parties may call upon the competent organs of the United Nation to take measures for the suppression or prevention of such crimes.
In such case the said Parties shall do everything in their power to give full effect to the intervention of the United Nations.

Article XIII: [Reparations to Victims of Genocide] When genocide is committed in a country by the government in power or by sections of the population, and if the government fails to resist it successfully, the State shall grant to the survivors of the human group that is a victim of genocide redress of a nature and in an amount to be determined by the United Nations.

Article XIV: [Settlement of Disputes on Interpretation or Application of the Convention] Disputes relating to the interpretation or application of this Convention shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice.

[Omitted: final clauses, Articles IX to XXIV]

Ad Hoc Committee Draft
Second Draft Genocide Convention
Prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC),
meeting between April 5, 1948 and May 10, 1948 [UN Doc. E/AC.25/SR.1 to 28 ]

The High Contracting Parties

Declaring that genocide is a grave crime against mankind which is contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and which the civilized world condemns;

Having been profoundly shocked by many recent instances of genocide;

Having taken note of the fact that the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg in its judgment of 30 September-1 October 1946 has punished under a different legal description certain persons who have committed acts similar to those which the present Convention aims at punishing; and

Being convinced that the prevention and punishment of genocide requires international co-operation,

Hereby agree to prevent and punish the crime as hereinafter provided:

[Substantive articles]

Article I: [Genocide a crime under international law]
Genocide is a crime under international law whether committed in time of peace or in time of war.

Article II: ['Physical and biological' genocide]
In this Convention genocide means any of the following deliberate acts committed with the intent to destroy a national, racial, religious or political group, on grounds of the national or racial origin, religious belief, or political opinion of its members:

1. Killing members of the group;
2. Impairing the physical integrity of members of the group;
3. Inflicting on members of the group measures or conditions of life aimed at causing their deaths;
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

Article III ['Cultural' genocide]

In this Convention genocide also means any deliberate act committed with the intent to destroy the language, religion, or culture of a national, racial or religious group on grounds of the national or racial origin or the religious belief of its members such as:

1. Prohibiting the use of the language of the group in daily intercourse or in schools, or the printing and circulation of publications in the language of the group;
2. Destroying or preventing the use of libraries, museums, schools, historical monuments, places of worship or other cultural institutions and objects of the group.

Article IV: [Punishable acts]
The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide as defined in Articles II and III;
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct incitement in public or in private to commit genocide whether such incitement be successful or not;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in any of the acts enumerated in this article.

Article V: [Persons liable]
Those committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article IV shall be punished whether they are heads of State, public officials or private individuals.

Article VI: [Domestic legislation]
The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact the necessary legislation in accordance with their constitutional procedures to give effect to the provisions of this Convention.

Article VII [Jurisdiction]
Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article IV shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed or by a competent international tribunal.

Article VIII: [Action of the United Nations]

1. A party to this Convention may call upon any competent organ of the United Nations to take such action as may be appropriate under the Charter for the prevention and suppression of genocide.
2. A party to this Convention may bring to the attention of any competent organ of the United Nations any case of violation of this Convention.

Article IX: [Extradition]

1. Genocide and the other acts enumerated in Article IV shall not be considered as political crimes and therefore shall be grounds for extradition.
2. Each party to this Convention pledges itself to grant extradition in such cases in accordance with its laws and treaties in force.

Article X: [Settlement of disputes by the International Court of Justice]
Disputes between the High Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation or application of this Convention shall be submitted to the International Court of justice provided that no dispute shall be submitted to the International Court of justice involving an issue which has been referred to and is pending before or has been passed upon by a competent international criminal tribunal.

[Omitted: final clauses, Articles X to IX]


Texts: Nehemiah Robinson, The Genocide Convention: A Commentary (Instutute of Jewish Affairs, 1960), Appendices II and IV; or William A. Schabas, , Genocide in International Law: The Crime of Crimes (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2000), p. 553-564.

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