Genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda Essay
The definition of Genocide can be found in Article II of the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention and in it acts of Genocide are categorised into five main areas. The reason for this was to make it easier to identify the victims and the perpetrators. The definition seems to hold all the essential elements but it is clear that this definition is sorely lacking in some part. It is reasonable on the part of the United Nations to narrow down the sphere of Genocide but their reluctance to broaden their definition over the years is unacceptable. An issue of great contention is the exclusion of the victims of political genocide. The two case studies that are to be discussed deal with issues of ethnic genocide as well as political mass killings.
Rwanda in 1994, in the eyes of the international community, was clearly in the throes of mass genocide. The victims were clear and the perpetrators were clearly marked. In 1975 Cambodia however, a case of genocide could not be so easily proven. Although the perpetrators were acknowledged, the victims could not be plainly targeted. Why is this? Why are political massacres not covered under the law of Article II? The situation in Rwanda and Cambodia share many of the same characteristics of an act of Genocide, but both were not approached in the same way. The question is how many elements of Genocide need to be in place before the international community can intervene. An attempt will now be made to compare and contrast the Genocide in Rwanda and the mass killings in Cambodia and try to uncover the reasons why some acts are considered Genocide and why some others are not.
One of the factors that classify a mass killing as Genocide is the identification of individuals as belonging to a certain group. In Nazi Germany, these lines which separated Aryan from Jew, Black and Homosexual were clear. In Rwanda and Cambodia however, victims did not necessarily fit into neat little boxes. The restrictive…