Journal Article

Genocide and the Question of Motives

Paul Behrens

in Journal of International Criminal Justice

Volume 10, issue 3, pages 501-523
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 1478-1387
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1478-1395 | DOI:
Genocide and the Question of Motives

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Specific intent is acknowledged as one of the defining characteristics of genocide. Motives on the other hand, are often considered irrelevant for the consideration of the crime. Yet, there is reason to be more discerning. To begin with, the question whether dolus specialis of genocide can itself be considered a motive, has been subject of debate since the drafting of the Genocide Convention. A further significance of motives arises when the view is followed that genocide requires specific underlying motives, such as hatred of the protected group. Then there is the question whether the presence of certain motives might exclude the co-existence of genocidal intent. The author argues that motives have a direct impact on the evaluation of the substantive law of genocide, and that specific motives can occupy so strong a place in the mind of the perpetrator that they may even replace genocidal intent.

Journal Article.  11171 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law

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