Samantha Johnson

Read the first paragraph below, or click here to read the entire essay: Samantha Johnson – Genocide

Before the 1940s the word genocide did not exist. There was no name for unique mass killings involving thousands to millions of targeted people. A man named Raphael Lemkin coined and popularized the word genocide and took on the responsibility to get the Genocide Convention passed. In the 1980s the United States finally joined The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Genocide Convention), however this came with many clauses and restrictions, causing the terms to be less effective. The convention defined genocide as any criminal acts harming or destroying national, ethnic, racial, or religious groups, but left the terms very vague and confusing. It gave no specifics on a number of crimes or deaths which must be reached to qualify as genocide. Even with the passing of the Genocide Convention, there still was no judiciary system to enforce the international law and give repercussions. Many nations, including the U.S., remain resistant to intervene on genocide, and the United Nations has little authority due to limited funding and no military power. The Genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda are strong examples of the lack of willingness of the United States and international community to acknowledge genocide, intervene on the crimes, and hold war criminals responsible for their action.

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