1948 December 9

UN General Assembly Adopts Convention Against Genocide


The United Nations on this day adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The document is often referred to as the Genocide Convention. The United States did not ratify it until November 4, 1988 — 40 years later. The leader of the ratification campaign in the U.S. Senate was Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire, who spoke on the subject every day the Senate was in session for 20 years (see, for example, May 27, 1977).

In the U.S., the Civil Rights Congress on December 17, 1951, filed a petition with the UN, “We Charge Genocide,” arguing that violations of the civil rights of African-Americans in the U.S constituted genocide.

Article 2 of the Genocide Convention: 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
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Read the full Genocide Convention: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/res/260(III)

Learn more: Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (2002)

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