Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Duty and semantics: Can legal responsibility under the Genocide Convention be avoided by circumventing use of the term “genocide”?

Narissa Ramsundarnarissa.ramsundar@canterbury.ac.uk

I. Introduction

Today, with the rise of live media broadcasting, journalists can report on the threat of genocide as events unfold on the ground. The instantaneous transmission of news may raise state awareness that a genocide is imminent. So far, there have been examples whereby state responses to such reports have tended to downplay the intensity of the killings. This was prominently demonstrated in the responses to the Rwandan genocide that occurred in April 1994. President Clinton in a radio address on the 30th of April, 1994, some 3 weeks after the genocide spoke of “mass killings of civilians in Rwanda.” According to Samantha Power, [p. 359]. The Rwanda example is by no means unique, and states’ mistaken belief that circumvention of the term “genocide” somehow avoids legal responsibility under the Genocide Convention (GC) and other instruments proscribing Genocide remains persistent. Continue reading


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Cambodia’s Genocide Conviction: A Sense of Justice?

Sara L. Ochs | sochs@elon.edu

On 16 November 2018, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (“ECCC”) Trial Chamber announced its judgment convicting former Khmer Rouge senior leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan of genocide, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. While this is the first genocide conviction handed down by any hybrid criminal tribunal, the judgment convicts two defendants whom the ECCC has previously convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The issuance of this judgment is also underscored by widespread speculation of the ECCC’s forthcoming closure, creating concern that this could be one of the last judgments issued by the Tribunal. Continue reading


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The (expected) guilty verdict against Ratko Mladić

By Prof. Dr. Caroline Fournet |c.i.fournet@rug.nl

On 22 November 2017, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) issued one of its most awaited judgments: that against Ratko Mladić, former Serbian army general and acolyte of the equally lamentably famous Radovan Karadžić, former Bosnian Serb leader, who also achieved infamy for the atrocities he perpetrated and was condemned by the ICTY on 24 March 2016.

The point of this short blog text is not to summarise a judgment that totals 2475 pages, excluding Judge Orie’s Dissenting Opinion and appendices. Rather, it is to comment on one particular issue that, although not overlooked as such, seems to be accepted as an expected outcome and ultimately as a side point in a verdict that, after all, may be seen as satisfactory insofar as it condemned the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’.

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