September 16, 2019
 In 2023-Definition of Genocide

Country: Palestinian Authority
Delegate Name: Reese Bower

Spurred by the atrocities of The Holocaust, the United Nations has been searching for an exact definition of genocide since 1948. A uniquely cruel war crime, the current definition from the United Nations Geneva Convention rides on not only the physical element but also the search for intent to physically destroy a certain national, ethnic, racial, or religious group–something often complicated to prove. While some believe the current definition is too encompassing, others believe it to be restricting, excluding certain horrific crimes from being considered genocide. Ultimately, defining genocide is crucial because of the consequences of not doing so; when countries spend precious time debating the definition of genocide or the nature of an atrocious crime, inaction in the face of mass killing is allowed.

Due to Palestine’s circumstances, Palestine has had ample experience with crimes that approach and meet the standards of genocide. Ongoing Palestinian deportation with the intention of ethnic cleansing has occurred since the early 20th century. From the 1948 Nakba, where an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from the state, to the displacement of almost 400,000 Palestinians during the 1967 Naksa, the forced displacement of Palestinians is a clear intentional eradication of the Palestinian nationality. Additionally, the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, a killing of between 2,000 and 3,500 Palestinian refugees by an Israel-backed army, was declared a genocide by the United Nations. Palestine is now experiencing many stages of genocide at the hands of Israel, yet little is being done to stop the development of this crime. The discrimination against and dehumanization of Palestinians (stages three and four in the ten stages of a genocide) promotes conditions for Palestinian genocide; the utilization of forced starvation and deportation (stage seven) marks the beginning of genocide.

Ultimately, the unstable situation in Palestine is alarming because of the lack of response from other nations. The definition of genocide must promote action to be taken by other nations against genocide, to not only define genocide but also prohibit it from occurring. This can come in the form of international prosecution and aid for the affected party. Additionally, Palestine urges the United Nations to add a clause to the official definition of genocide about the recognition of the ten genocidal stages in populations across the world. The best way to prevent genocide is to stop it in its early stages, which can be achieved through the recognition and action against early signs of oppression of and intent to remove a certain national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

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