Western forces have slowly started to band together to try and defeat one of the biggest terrorist organisations in recent history — ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL and Daesh).
However, 60 British politicians have found a way to actually force United Nations members to get involved, whether they like it or not, by insisting the UK’s Prime Minister pushes the UN to agree that ISIS is perpetrating genocide.
In a letter, as cited by the BBC, the MPs said (emphasis ours):
“This is not simply a matter of semantics. There would be two main benefits from the acceptance by the UN that genocide is being perpetrated.
“First, it would send a very clear message to those organising and undertaking this slaughter that at some point in the future they will be held accountable by the international community for their actions; they will be caught, tried and punished.
“Second, it would encourage the 127 nations that are signatories to the Convention to face up to their duty to take the necessary action to ‘prevent and punish’ the perpetrators of these evil acts.”
In turn, if there is an agreement that ISIS is conducting genocide, then this would push countries to catch, give a trial to, and punish fighters in the International Criminal Court.
ISIS has systematically been killing several minority ethic and religious groups over the last year, including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis.
For example, ISIS accuses Yazidis of being devil worshippers who are not “people of the book” — protected religions mentioned in the Quran. Yazidi women have been used as sex slaves for ISIS fighters.
In March earlier this year by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that ISIS’ treatment of the Yazidis was cited as evidence as genocide.
The importance of “intent to destroy”
Now, if British politicians can convince Cameron to use his power to convince the UN to say that ISIS is conducting genocide, this will force 127 nations that are signatories to get involved and each participate in helping prevent and punish perpetrators of genocide.
In the 1948 UN treaty, entitled the “
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide,” Article II outlines under international law about what constitutes as genocide (emphasis ours):
Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
As you can see, there are arguably a raft ways in which ISIS can already be considered as committing or at least committing conspiracy to commit genocide through it’s persistent public declarations over its intentions to kill or destroy those not supporting the caliphate.
The reason why the MPs said the letter is not “simply about semantics” is because of previous examples relating to the UN taking a stance over whether to deem certain historical acts of violence as genocide — as the agreement on the crime makes a huge difference.
In 1994, there were around 100 days where the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda committed genocidal mass slaughter. Up to 1 million Rwandans were killed. Perpetrators also used rape as way to destroy communities.
Arguably Western forces did not step in immediately because the UN was determining whether the Hutu tribe was in fact conducting genocide because there needed to be evidence of “intention to destroy.”
Political pundits have said, for example in this paper from Harvard University, that it was only until radio broadcastings surfaced that gave evidence of genocidal intention it allowed the UN to get involved an force the International Criminal Court to take action too.
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