Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

The Evolving Nature of the Crime of Genocide

16 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2007  

Ralph Ruebner

The John Marshall Law School


The French prosecutor at Nuremberg described it as a crime so monstrous, so undreamt of in history ... that the term genocide' had to be coined to define it. ... For Lemkin, genocide not only extinguishes the existence of a national group; ultimately it destroys the cultural contributions of that group. ... Critics of the definition of genocide have argued that it is over-inclusive because it goes beyond biological destruction of a cognizable group to include cultural genocide. ... Thus, for a crime of genocide to have been committed, it is necessary that one of the acts listed under [Article II of the Convention] be committed, that the particular act be committed against a specifically targeted group, it being a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. ... Professor George Fletcher argues that genocide is a collective crime and criticizes the focus of international criminal law that has prevailed since Nuremberg, which he says, emphasized the responsibility of individuals for the crime of genocide. ... Instead, it may make it easier for a political leader, like a Milosevic, who conceives the idea and then devises a plan for genocide as a policy for his nation, to avoid maximal responsibility, escape the harshest possible punishment and shift liability onto those individuals down the hierarchy who execute his genocidal plan.

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Ruebner, Ralph, The Evolving Nature of the Crime of Genocide. John Marshall Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Ralph Ruebner (Contact Author)

The John Marshall Law School ( email )

315 South Plymouth Court
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views