The Law and Genocide

William A. Schabas

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Law and Genocide


This article discusses genocide as a legal concept. The crime of genocide has been incorporated within the national legal systems of many countries, where national legislators have imposed their own views on the term, some of them varying slightly or even considerably from the established international definition. The term itself was invented by a lawyer, Raphael Lemkin. He intended to fill a gap in international law, as it then stood in the final days of the Second World War. Over the years, the limited definition of genocide in the 1948 Genocide Convention has provoked much criticism and many proposals for reform. But by the 1990s, when international criminal law went through a period of stunning developments, it was the atrophied concept of crimes against humanity that emerged as the best legal tool to address atrocities.

Keywords: Raphael Lemkin; international law; genocide; World War; crimes against humanity; 1948 Genocide Convention

Article.  8700 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »