On Genocide

Document Type


Repository Date



Genocide, L.C. Green, International Criminal Tribunals, Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, Kovacevic Trial

Subject Categories

Criminal Law | Human Rights Law | International Law | Law


The crime of genocide is the newest international crime. It must be kept as a separate, distinct, and coherent concept. It is the first truly subjective crime; all other crime, though requiring mens rea, require only that the defendant consciously committed the criminal acts. In the case of genocide, however, the underlying criminal acts are no different from the acts required to prove ordinary crimes. The difference is one of motive. What is being punished by the crime of genocide is the selection of victims according to their involuntary membership in four kinds of groups: national, ethnical, racial, or religious. The distinctiveness of this new crime turns on how seriously prosecutors, defense counsel, and judges in future cases take and examine evidence of a defendant's motives.