Delegate Name: KenZie Low
Definition of Genocide
Republic of Poland
City High Middle
During WWII, Poland suffered from numerous mass atrocities with invasions from both Germany and the Soviet Union. These crimes involved the murder and torture of millions of people, specifically people of different religions, ethnicities, and nationalities. The word ‘genocide’ was coined in 1944 to describe the international crimes committed against these specific groups of people. The United Nations was committed to reform and wrote the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. The treaty defines the word genocide and legislates that all nations must punish those who commit it. The definition of genocide in the Genocide Convention is “any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a. Killing members of the group, b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” The five acts listed are the physical acts of violence in genocide. However, the definition also consists of a mental aspect. There must be a provable intent that the persecutor willingly planned to murder the specific group. This mental aspect allows for many crimes against humanity to fall into the gray area between an unspecific crime against humanity and genocide. Additionally, the definition of genocide does not provide any information on which countries can prevent genocide, or how genocide is punished or dealt with internationally.
Poland is a nation that has suffered from genocide. The nation has a history of being mistreated and tortured by Germany and the Soviet Union, even though these war crimes are not officially considered genocide by the United Nations. Both Germany and the Soviet Union falsely accused Poland before they invaded. Germany is responsible for terrorizing Poland and murdering anyone of Polish descent. Additionally, Poland highlights the torture the Soviet Union’s NKVD committed on the nation, noting that the NKVD caused the murder/torture of two hundred thousand Poles in both execution and concentration camps alike, and the imprisonment of many Poles’ family members. Poland felt that its culture and people were almost diminished after WWII. In response to all the acts of injustice, Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide, based on his study of the crimes committed against the Armenians during WWI. Lemkin defined genocide as “the destruction of a national or ethnic group.” Lemkin’s lobbying for the recognition of genocide as a war crime supplemented the creation of the Genocide Convention. Poland has been part of the treaty since November 14, 1950. Poland’s only issue with the treaty is that the laws of genocide should apply to Non-self-governing territories as well.
Poland deeply remembers its history and wishes to be justified for the crimes committed against the nation, and further, claims that the ethnic cleansing of Poles was considered genocide. Poland believes that intent is seldom provable on a technical level. Instead, intent speaks for itself when an act is committed that destroys a national, ethnic, religious, or racial group. Additionally, Poland does not believe that a specific number of people must be murdered to be considered genocide, as long as the group is clearly being persecuted with violence. Poland stands with the draft articles provided by the International Law Commission and supports clearer rules on the definition of genocide, how to prevent and punish genocide, and the international community’s cooperation in cases of genocide. Educating youth on pluralism and incorporating human rights into all aspects of the UN organization is key to preventing genocide. Nonetheless, when genocide occurs, Poland urges the international community must provide assistance when the suffering nation fails to do so. Poland is open to creating another convention covering the topic of systematic murder of civilian populations. Poland is also open to helping neighbors who are experiencing genocide or the mass murder of their population. As a victim of war crimes, Poland understands that it is imperative to change the definition of genocide. Therefore, many mass atrocities that were done injustice can now be rightfully labeled.