In his autobiography, Raphael Lemkin recounts how the crime of “withdrawing children from an ethnic group” came to be included in the Genocide Convention. In his advocacy of this point, Lemkin had been influenced by unnamed friends who spoke on behalf of the rightist government during the Greek Civil War. Lemkin’s readiness to accept at face value their statements about that civil war and about Greece’s history within the Ottoman Empire reflected pragmatic, as much as historical or moral, considerations. Defining genocide by universal legal notions may obscure the fact that the history of each genocide or purported genocide reflects contingent factors—and that the historical memory of each reflects particular interests. Moreover, criminalizing the systematic effort of a state or political movement to exterminate a people entails the thorny issue of what constitutes “a people.” The following considers specific examples of the corresponding pitfalls that attended formulation of the Genocide Convention.


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pp. 488-505
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