Chapter

THE GENOCIDE MYSTIQUE

William Schabas

in Unimaginable Atrocities

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653072
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739361 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653072.003.0005
THE GENOCIDE MYSTIQUE

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The word ‘genocide’ itself has a strange, mysterious effect. For victims, it presents itself as a badge of honour, the only adequate way to describe their suffering or that of their ancestors. Those who question whether the word is appropriate in given circumstances are sometimes dismissed as ‘deniers’ The distinction between genocide and crimes against humanity is of great symbolic significance. This is the core of the genocide mystique. It is tempting to suggest, as some have argued, that we eliminate altogether the distinctions between genocide and crimes against humanity. At a minimum, it would be helpful if genocide's proper place, nestled within the broader concept of crimes against humanity and reserved exclusively for the clearest cases of intentional extermination of national, ethnic, racial, and religious groups, were better understood and appreciated.

Keywords: genocide; crimes against humanity; victims; deniers

Chapter.  11501 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

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