The definition of genocide suggested by the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was formulated based upon past acts committed by powerful figures. The criteria protects individuals from discrimination due to nationality, ethnicity, race and religion, all of which are associated with past cases of genocide. However, the definition’s ambiguity fails to address acts similar to genocide. It does not elaborate on the phrase intent to destroy, thus allowing governments to avoid consequences as a result of mass killings, it does not protect all groups of people for characteristics outside of the four stated and it does not protect persons from the law.
Intentions in cases such as the Rwandan genocide were clear. Those who identified as Hutu wanted to eliminate, or destroy Tutsi people. Their intentions could not be justified. However, in cases of the United States during World War II, individuals were imprisoned merely because they were Japanese. President Roosevelt attributed these internment camps to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This act was not classified as genocide because his intent was attributed to military necessities. His decision however meets the criteria of this definition. Forcibly removing Japanese-Americans from their homes into camps caused mental and physical harm to Japanese-American people.
Furthermore, the definition protects against discrimination due to nationality, race, ethnicity and religion. It does not protect individuals from acts based on culture, gender, sexual preference, economic status, etc. China’s One-Child policy discriminated against women, resulting in gendercide. Because families were permitted to have one child, boys were favored as opposed to girls. Many women had abortions when ultra-sound radiation became available, which can cause bodily harm. Recently, the law was changed and families were allowed to have two children.
China’s One-Child policy imposes measures intended to prevent births within a group, but because gender is not listed in the definition of genocide, this act does not violate laws on genocide. Their supposed intention was to control the rapid growing population, however, one may argue that their intention was to destroy a part of a group. The law itself imposes genocide and this definition fails to protect individuals from laws as such.