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Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part. The hybrid word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word γένος ("race, people") and the Latin suffix -caedo ("act of killing"). The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe;

The United Nations Genocide Convention, which was established in 1948, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group", including the systematic harm or killing of its members, deliberately imposing living conditions that seek to "bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part", preventing births, or forcibly transferring children out of the group to another group.


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Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges or intent to file charges, and thus no trial. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects". Thus, while it can simply mean imprisonment, it tends to refer to preventive confinement, rather than confinement after having been convicted of some crime. Use of these terms is subject to debate and political sensitivities.

Interned persons may be held in prisons or in facilities known as internment camps. In certain contexts, these may also be known either officially or pejoratively, as concentration camps.



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Martin Shaw (born 30 June 1947 in Driffield, Yorkshire) is a British sociologist and academic. He is a research professor of international relations at the Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, emeritus professor of international relations and politics at Sussex University and a professorial fellow in international relations and human rights at Roehampton University. He is best known for his sociological work on war, genocide and global politics.



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Left pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg "If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged." Right pointing double angle quotation mark sh3.svg — Noam Chomsky, lecture at St. Michael's College, 1990


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International prosecution of genocide (ad hoc tribunals)

It is commonly accepted that, at least since World War II, genocide has been illegal under customary international law as a peremptory norm, as well as under conventional international law. Acts of genocide are generally difficult to establish, for prosecution, since intent, demonstrating a chain of accountability, has to be established. International criminal courts and tribunals function primarily because the states involved are incapable or unwilling to prosecute crimes of this magnitude themselves.

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International prosecution of genocide (International Criminal Court)

To date all international prosecutions for genocide have been brought in specially convened international tribunals. Since 2002, the International Criminal Court can exercise its jurisdiction if national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute genocide, thus being a "court of last resort," leaving the primary responsibility to exercise jurisdiction over alleged criminals to individual states. Due to the United States concerns over the ICC, the United States prefers to continue to use specially convened international tribunals for such investigations and potential prosecutions.[1]

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