Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, & Obligations Under International Law

Authored by: Global Justice Center

Categories: Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: International Law, Mass Atrocities, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Region: No Region
Year: 2018
Citation: Global Justice Center. Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, and Obligations Under International Law. Report. December 2018.

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Executive Summary

Gender permeates the crime of genocide. It is woven into the perpetrators’ planning and commission of coordinated acts that make up the continuum of genocidal violence. It is through these gendered annihilative acts that perpetrators maximize the crime’s destructive impact on protected groups. Female and male members of targeted groups, by the perpetrators’ own design, experience genocide in distinct ways by reason of their gender.

The continuing failure to acknowledge the complexity of genocidal violence—and the distinct ways in which genocide is planned and committed against men and women, boys and girls, by reason of their gender—has undercut the development of an effective framework to mobilize the Genocide Convention’s legal obligations to prevent and punish genocide. It has limited political, diplomatic, and military authorities’ capacity to recognize where there is a serious risk of genocide occurring, and to identify and suppress genocides that are in progress. This has particular consequences for female victims, who are often subjected to a wider range of violations that occur over a relatively longer span of time.

In the decades that have elapsed since the signing of the 1948 Genocide Convention, the red thread of genocide has continued to course its way through human history, calling into question the international legal order. A failure to grapple with the intrinsic role that gender plays the crime of genocide has undercut the progressive framework for understanding and action offered by the Convention. One cannot prevent and punish what one does not recognize.

A gendered analysis is essential to illuminate the multi-dimensional nature of this crime, and the gamut of its victims. In this way we recognize, remember, and protect all those whose lives have been, or may still be, ripped asunder by the scourge of genocide.