- The Issue of Intent in the Genocide Convention and Its Effect on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: Toward a Knowledge-Based Approach
- Genocide Studies and Prevention
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 5, Number 3, Winter 2010
- pp. 238-257
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Since the Genocide Convention was created in 1948, its effectiveness has been hindered by debates on what the definition actually means. It has been widely accepted that the meaning of "intent," within the Genocide Convention, refers to specific or special intent, dolus specialis. However, as more trials have taken place, creating more understanding of the crime of genocide, the linking of dolus specialis with the intent definition, that was so easily accepted at the first genocide trial (Akayesu at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda [ICTR]), has been repeatedly put into question. The new approach being put forward as the most appropriate interpretation of "intent" is the knowledge-based approach. The Vienna Convention on Treaties states that interpretations of laws should follow the treaty's original purpose and objective, and should do this by looking at the preparatory work and its circumstances. By looking at the Travaux Préparatoires of the Genocide Convention and Raphael Lemkin's original writings on the subject, this article will discuss which approach fits the original intentions of both the drafters of the Convention and Lemkin himself, to determine which interpretation should be used in the future when considering the crime of genocide.