The Genocide Convention (article 2) defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group … ", including:
Killing members of the group;
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The Convention confirms that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or war, is a crime under international law which parties to the Convention undertake “to prevent and to punish” (article 1). The primary responsibility to prevent and stop genocide lies with the State.
At the 2005 World Summit, Member States committed to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as well as their incitement. They agreed that when States require assistance to fulfil that responsibility, the international community must be ready to assist them and, when States manifestly fail to protect their populations from those crimes, the international community must be ready to take action, collectively, in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Intervention only happens when prevention fails. Therefore, prevention is the basis of the principle of the responsibility to protect.
These three pillars of the responsibility to protect are articulated in the Outcome Document of the World Summit (A/RES/60/1, para. 138-140) and formulated in the Secretary-General’s 2009 Report (A/63/677) on Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. The political commitment made by Member States in 2005 is deeply rooted in international law, including the Genocide Convention.
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime (A/RES/69/323). The 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).
Some facts about the genocide in the last 100 years:
1932-1933 - Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union inflict a famine upon the Ukraine after people rebel against the imposed system of land management known as "collectivization," which seizes privately owned farmlands and puts people to work in collectives. An estimated 25,000-33,000 people die every day. There are an estimated 6 million to 10 million deaths.
December 1937-January 1938 - The Japanese Imperial Army marches into Nanking, China and kills an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers. Tens of thousands are raped before they are murdered.
1938-1945 - Nazi Germany, under Adolf Hitler, deems the Jewish population racially inferior and a threat, and kills an estimated six million Jews in Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union and other areas around Europe during World War II.
1975-1979 - Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot’s attempt to turn Cambodia into a Communist peasant farming society leads to the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, forced labor and executions.
1988 - The Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein attacks civilians who have remained in "prohibited" areas. The attacks include the use of mustard gas and nerve agents and result in the death of an estimated 100,000 Iraqi Kurds.
1992-1995 - Yugoslavia, led by President Slobodan Milosevic, attacks Bosnia after it declares its independence. Approximately 100,000 people -- the majority of whom are Muslims, or Bosniaks, -- are killed in the conflict. There are mass executions of "battle-age" men and mass rape of women.
1994 - In Rwanda, an estimated 800,000 civilians, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, are killed over a period of three months.
2003-present - In the Darfur region of Sudan an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 people are killed.
August 2014 - ISIS fighters attack the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, home of a religious minority group called the Yazidis. A Yazidi lawmaker says that 500 men have been killed, 70 children have died of thirst and women are being sold into slavery. January 2016 - According to a 2016 United Nations report, ISIS is believed to be holding 3,500 people as slaves, most of which are women and children from the Yazidi community and other minority groups.