Short Answer 2 Killian

Short Answer 2

One of the issues with the definition of genocide by the U.N. Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is the lack of integration for cultural relativism. Anthropologists, primarily from Africa and Asia, think that the U.N. description of genocide is incorrect because of its ethnocentric take on human rights. Ethnocentrism, is the act of generalizing, and judging another culture based off of ones believes, learned in their personal culture. This notion of the anthropologists seeks to incorporate cultural relativism into the definition in order to better suit, “cultural community customs and values.”(Messer 2013) Cultural relativism, is the understanding of the world, through ones own cultural lens. Integrating this with the U.N. definition of genocide would allow for cultural interpretations of human rights by the community to best fit their customs, which may not be synonymous with the U.N. definition of human rights.

The definition also fails to take into account socialist and nondemocratic states where political rights are not as prevalent due to the prioritization of economic and social rights. These states such as Africa, and Asia argue that their provisioning of economic and social rights for their citizens comes with restricted political freedom. Socialist states argue that their government run subsistence programs should be taken into consideration when viewing political civil human rights violations. This is because states such as China and Indonesia, “focus on meeting subsistence needs over civil liberties.”(Messer 2013) These socialist states claim citizens may not see civil and political rights as a major concern so long as the government is not over-stepping their boundaries effecting economic, social, cultural rights and that the people within these socialist states have the ability to change political factors but only when the majority wants change. On the other hand political groups should be taken into account because they may receive mistreatment within a community to the point of termination which would categorize it as a genocide.

The effect of the U.N. definition of genocide on different religious communities is debated as well. This is because different religious teachings may allow and support acts against members that other culture may view as a violation of human rights. The Sharia religion of Islam is a good example as they have strict views within their religion regarding the freedom to change religion, and restricted equality for women. The teaching of Sharia laws are not compatible with human rights as stated by the U.N. because of these views within the religion, even though they are accepted by the community members. This creates an issue for the women within the religion who are trying to maintain the standard cultural tradition of their Islamic faith who have begun to feel the pressure from western standards of human rights. Although there needs to be special attention paid by the U.N. to the mutually accepted rules, and standards, within religious groups, there also needs to be a proper outlet for members who are being discriminated against their will. This would allow for protection for people against variations of their religious group that begin negatively interpret teachings causing harm to the basic universal human rights.


Cole, N. L. (2015, December 17). What is Cultural Relativism? Retrieved July 15, 2016, from

Colombo, V. (2009, October 5). Human Rights vs. Sharia: Violence Against Women. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from

Hassan, R. (n.d.). The Religious Consultation. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from

Messer, E. (2013, June 26). Pluralist Approach To Human Rights. Journal of Anthropological Research, 53(3), 293-317. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from

Leave a Reply