German radio station interviews Leicester law academic
The word ‘genocide’ was coined by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin in 1944. Four years later the United Nations ratified the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’ which came into force in 1951 and sixty years later is still in use.
Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic is currently on trial for genocide at a UK tribunal in The Hague and it was this which prompted German radio station WDR5 to interview Dr Paul Behrens from our School of Law last week. Paul’s expertise on the subject stems from his British Academy-funded research project The Criminal Law of Genocide and the resultant book which he co-edited in 2007.
WDR5 is a sort of German Radio 4 and Paul was interviewed by renowned journalist Liane von Billerbeck on the 4 July edition of Politikum, which is available to download as an mp3. But if you’re not fluent in German, the gist of Dr Behrens' argument was that the Genocide Convention is a very limited instrument because it protects only national, ethnic, religious and racial groups. It can’t be applied to similar crimes against groups defined by politics, lifestyle, sexuality, education, disability or other factors.
This is particularly ironic given that the Nazi atrocities that inspired the Convention targeted many groups who fell outside of the ‘national, ethnic, religious and racial’ criteria including Communists, homosexuals and disabled people.
Dr Behrens also explores this idea in a recent blog post for Leicester Exchanges on The Conflict in Libya: Is it Genocide?