16484 - The legal substance of genocide

N. Lygeros
Translated from the Greek by Evi Charitidou

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Raphael Lemkin was a lawyer, not a historian. His invention of the notion of genocide is legal and not historical. Genocide is the characterization of a crime against Humanity defined by specific conditions, which are now accepted by the UN Charter. So, there is not any ontological issue and all those promoting this, they do it either because of lack in knowledge or deliberately, because they wish to send other types of messages. In any case, International Law knows exactly what genocide is and waits for no clarification by anyone. It is not thus a question with a historical background. It is not even a matter of problematic. The notion of genocide is in such a way formulated so as to allow the correction process which initially starts with the stages of recognition followed by penalization. So, it has to do with the morality of a society trying to comply with the human rights until the establishment of the rights of Humanity. We are thus naturally and rationally at the legal context. Consequently, it indeed rests on the members of the Parliament to decide on the correctness of a bill so that later on it may turn into a state law. Discussions over the historical nature of the whole process are simply out of context. A fact characterized by the word of genocide is of course historical; namely it belongs to history and no one doubts its existence. This is not the question. The problematic is whether this fact has the characteristics of genocide. Here again the answer is simple, since we are aware of the terms of the notion of genocide through Lemkin’s legal work. Now what must concern us is the decision on penalizing the negation of the recognition of genocide, but this as well has no relation with the historians. It is merely a matter of dignity of the society claiming that bears a humane substance. A society allowing insults and doubts about the existence of genocided victims is not humane. A society cannot hide itself behind institutions; on its part it has to take a stand and decide on whether it is in favor of barbarity or Humanity. This is the dilemma and nothing other than this. It is not a historical problematic, but a historic decision.