Delegate Name: Lillian Navin
Submitted To: Legal Committee
Subject: Definition of Genocide
In 1949, Switzerland committed to preventing and punishing genocide by signing the Geneva Conventions. However, over time, instances of genocide have increased, surpassing the confines of existing definitions and preventive measures. Switzerland views genocide as a crime characterized by “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group of persons based on nationality, race, religion, or ethnic, social, or political affiliation.” Yet, it recognizes a divergence from the UN definition, which excludes social and political groups, integral elements of genocide. In this committee, Switzerland aims to modernize the definition of genocide, fostering a more universally inclusive understanding.
In order to prevent genocide from occurring, a universal definition of genocide must first be agreed upon. To do this, the definition must be updated to include the new atrocities that the world is currently facing. Given the dynamic nature of genocide, Switzerland asks that the committee investigate how the term might be strengthened to explicitly include political and social groupings, acknowledging their susceptibility to targeted violence.
An ideal resolution must take into account more recent crimes and make sure they are encompassed in the definition of genocide. Switzerland suggests explicitly including social and political groupings in the definition of genocide, reflecting the diversity of current conflicts and human rights violations. Switzerland would also wish the committee to concentrate on genocide prevention. Switzerland recommends increasing assistance and support for GAAMAC (Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes), which assists states in implementing or improving their national atrocity prevention procedures and policies.
Both Articles I and VIII of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide call for genocide prevention. According to this, Switzerland and the other founding members of GAAMAC agreed that a secure platform was required for national-level debates on strengthening genocide prevention. The organization actively aids nations in protecting their citizens against atrocity crimes by addressing underlying causes of violence and early warning indicators within their communities in strong cooperation between State actors and civil society. Switzerland sees GAAMAC as critical to averting future genocides. Furthermore, we must develop a new definition of genocide in order to effectively prevent genocide in the first place. In Art. 264 of the Swiss Criminal Code, Switzerland includes political and social groups in its definition of genocide, and it advocates for the UN definition to be revised to include these groups as well.
Switzerland believes that expanding the definition of genocide to encompass political and social groupings will result in a widely accepted criterion for prevention. We hope that this committee can reach an agreement on how genocide should be defined in order to prevent genocide in the future.
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“Preventing Atrocities.” Eidgenössisches Departement Für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten EDA,
www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/fdfa/foreign-policy/human-rights/peace/genocide.html. Accessed 19 Nov. 2023.
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www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.1_Convention%20on%20the%20Prevention%20and%20Punishment%20of%20the%20Crime%20of%20Genocide.pdf. Accessed 19 Nov. 2023.