What is genocide?

In 1945 the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators shocked the world. The United Nations ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide’ came into effect as a result of the Holocaust.

Article 2 of that convention states that genocide means “any... acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Since 1945 there have been genocides and examples of ethnic cleansing throughout the world. The problem is universal. So, why have we not learned to act and stop genocides happening?


Professor Gregory H. Stanton, president of Genocide Watch and a major scholar in genocide education and prevention, has identified eight stages in genocides. He argues that at each stage, preventive measures can stop it. He says the process is not linear. Later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process. The slide show above explains the eight stages.