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U.N. General Assembly Approves International Convention Outlawing Genocide

In an historic roll call, the United Nations General Assembly tonight unanimously approved an international convention outlawing the crime of genocide. A total of 55 states voted in favor while three were absents.

Crowning two years of laborious drafting and revision, the new convention brands as a punishable crime against humanity any deliberate attempt to destroy in whole or in part a national ethnical or religious group, “Political” and “cultural” genocide were dropped out of the draft convention in committee.

The attempt by the Soviet bloc to broaden the concept of the convention to include cultural genocide was beaten down by 31 to 14, with ten abstentions. The Soviets sought to add a new article providing that “genocide also means any deliberate attempt to destroy the language, religion or culture of national, religious and racial groups,” such as a prohibition against teaching a language in schools, destroying or preventing the use of the libraries, schools, historical monuments, places of worship or other cultural institutions of a given group. The proposal was opposed by the United States, Britain and France.

The General Assembly also defeated a Soviet attempt to link genocide with “Fascism, Nazism and other similar race theories which propagate racial and national hatred, the domination of the so-called higher raced and extermination of the so-called lower races.” Alexander P. Morozov, of the Soviet Union, said that the Soviets would support the convention, although, he declared, it was inadequate and full of loopholes.

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