This convention declares genocide a crime under international law. It defines what genocide is, and condemns this crime whether it’s committed in peacetime or wartime.
The convention defines genocide as any act committed with the idea of destroying in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. This includes such acts as:
- Killing members of the group
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
- Deliberately inflicting conditions calculated to physically destroy the group (the whole group or even part of the group)
- Forcefully transferring children of the group to another group
The convention declares that there is no immunity from being prosecuted for committing genocide: those found guilty of genocide will be punished for their crime, regardless of whether they are or were legally constituted ruler, public officials, or private individuals.
According to this convention, anyone charged with genocide will be put on trial by either: a competent court of the country where the act was committed; or an international court that has jurisdiction over the people and crimes concerned.
Under the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court, genocide can be decided by legal principles or by a court of justice. Genocide is not to be considered a political crime for the purpose of extraditing those accused of the crime. When that happens, the countries or courts involved in the case pledge themselves to grant extradition. The Genocide Convention, unlike most other human rights treaties, doesn’t establish an expert committee, or an organization to monitor its provisions. Instead, it allows any country that is party to the Convention to ask the relevant parts of the UN to take appropriate action (according to the UN Charter) to prevent or stop acts of genocide. This makes it possible to bring the issue before the International Court of Justice—and the court may order immediate protective measures to be taken while other steps are begun.