George Walford: Genocide

Leo Kuper has specialised in the study of genocide. We expect to be commenting on the subject, and on his work in connection with it, later; here one short piece for starters.

In Genocide, its Political Use in the Twentieth Century (New Haven & London, Yale UP 1982) Kuper discusses the setting-up of the United Nations Convention under which genocide was made a crime in international law. He compares this with the international agreement under which piracy on the high seas is condemned. The suppression of piracy is enforced universally, the state arresting the pirates being recognised as competent to try and to punish them, whatever their nationality and wherever, on the high seas, the crime had been committed.

In the convention on genocide, however, the principle of universal enforcement, at first included, was later eliminated, “for otherwise the representative of one of the great powers, on a visit say to Uganda under Amin, might find himself arraigned on a charge of genocide before the courts of that country.”

Kuper comments: “I do not doubt that if pirates had been properly represented at the international convention on piracy, they too would have voted against the principle of universal enforcement.”

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If at first you don’t succeed, better give up sky-diving.

When submarining, count the number of times you dive, add the number of times you surface, and divide the result by two. If there is one left over, don’t open the hatch.

from Ideological Commentary 30, November 1987.