The below definitions are taken from Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes, produced by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, United Nations, 2014
Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and has become a norm of customary international law. The same definition can be found in other documents of international law: Article 6 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; Article 4(2) of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and Article 2(2) of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Crimes against humanity have not been codified in a treaty, similar to genocide and war crimes. However, the definition has developed under customary law and through the jurisdiction of international courts. Article 7(1) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; Article 5 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Article 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, include definitions of crimes against humanity, even though they do not totally coincide.
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7
42.For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) Murder; (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) Torture; (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; j) The crime of apartheid; (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
43.For the purpose of paragraph 1: (a) “Attack directed against any civilian population” means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack;
Ethnic cleansing has not been recognized as an independent crime under international law. In the context of the war in former Yugoslavia, a United Nations Commission of Experts defined it as:
Interim Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (1992), U.N. SCOR, U.N. Doc. S/25274 (26 January 1993), at 16 “… rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area,” Final Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992), U.N. SCOR, U.N. Doc. S/1994/674 (27 May 1994), Annex, at 3, 33 “… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”
The same Commission of Experts stated that the coercive practices used to remove the civilian population can include: murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extrajudicial executions, rape and sexual assaults, severe physical injury to civilians, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, use of civilians as human shields, destruction of property, robbery of personal property, attacks on hospitals, medical personnel, and locations with the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem, among others. The Commission of Experts added that these practices can “… constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore, such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention.”
8 December 2017