September 16, 2019
 In 2023-Definition of Genocide

Country: United Kingdom
Delegate Name: Muskan Rekhani

The definition of Genocide is a complex ongoing debate with many variables to consider as it is much more than just the crimes themselves, rather it is the intent behind the crimes and a country’s interpretation. The first main call to strengthen the definition of genocide was from the Nürnberg trials where the United Nations triad Nazis for their war crimes. Following, the world has unfortunately continued to witness a great number of atrocities that fall in a gray area outside of the definition at their times. Currently, genocide is officially defined as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, in whole or in part.” To gather this definition, the UN had a Genocide convention: the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. As a result, 153 states ratified the genocide law which was enough for the International Court of Justice to make this definition international law. The United Kingdom has never been affected by genocide, however, they believe it is a serious issue that the international jurisdiction should be responsible for. The main issue is the apparent ambiguousness in the definition only defines indicators of genocide, but the “intent” behind the acts of genocide is often difficult to prove. In other words, genocide has two parts; the mental element is intent the physical element is causing harm and both have to be done by targeting certain groups. The part of the definition regarding the harming of specific groups adds to the obscurity of defining the crime.

As mentioned before, genocide does not affect the United Kindom heavily so they are not as involved with the definition issue. The UK government stated the UK policy “has always been that determinations of genocide should be made by competent courts, rather than by governments or non-judicial bodies [such as parliament].” In specific, decisions should be made by international courts, which is how they are currently ruled through. Currently, in the UK each state has its process for acknowledging genocide. They only recognize five international acts of genocide: the Holocaust, Rwanda, Srebrenica, Cambodia, and against Yazidi people. Yazidi was most recently recognized as genocide in the UK. Additionally, the UK refused to label the human rights abuses against the Muslim Uighur community in China’s Xinjiang region genocide because, as stated by the embassy, “The unwarranted accusation by a handful of British MPs that there is ‘genocide’ in Xinjiang is the most preposterous lie of the century, an outrageous insult and affront to the Chinese people, and a gross breach of international law and the basic norms governing international relations.” From the lack of genocide recognition in the UK, it is evident they follow the vague international law without much interpretation concluding in acceptance of genocide only with hard facts. Presently, the UK is part of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe-Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. This committee is rooted in the US government and creates supervision for the development of security to catch such severe crimes.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland compels the United Nations to revise the current definition of genocide to specifically include guidance when deciding the intent behind an offense. The UK suggests involving signs of intent or specific patterns to investigate when determining genocide. Additionally, the international court should include a background investigation into the defendant’s ties to the group he or she targeted. Last, a committee of qualified psychologists and doctors may prove helpful in determining the intent behind felonies. In conclusion, the definition of genocide is a problem for the International Court of Justice to fix, however, for countries to agree on the judgment, the official definition must be revised.

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