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The Crime Of Genocide: Recent Problems Of Interpretation

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Chapter Summary

While there has been no change in the text of the definition of the crime of genocide, recent atrocities have presented interesting and important challenges to its interpretation, as jurists in the 1990s have struggled with the application of the concept of genocide to events in Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo. The range of groups protected by the definition, and the scope of the punishable acts, are unarguably a source of major problems of construction. These difficulties are the subject of this chapter. The text of the definition is rather neatly divided into the two constitutive elements of all truly criminal offenses, the mens rea or mental element, and the actus reus or physical element. In the final years of the 20th century, the Genocide Convention has finally become an imperative legal tool for prosecution of individual offenders in situations where its applicability was unchallengeable.

Keywords: atrocities; Bosnia; crime of genocide; genocide convention; Kosovo; problems of interpretation; protected groups; punishable acts; Rwanda



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