The concept of cultural genocide : an international law perspective
Title: The concept of cultural genocide : an international law perspective
Author: NOVIC, Elisa
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2014
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Law
This thesis seeks to determine whether the evolution of international law has allowed for the concept of cultural genocide to be addressed in spite of its non-codification. It firstly provides an assessment of the evolution of the concept of cultural genocide, from a technique to a process of genocide, also known as 'ethnocide'. Acknowledging that the codification of the concept is unlikely in the future, it therefore undertakes a study of the evolution of international law with regard to the main components of the concept, namely genocide, culture and group. The evolution of the legal concept of 'genocide' raises the question of the interpretation of the international definition of genocide, which is enshrined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, so as to encompass instances of cultural destruction. The state of international and domestic judicial practice illustrates the limits of an evolutionary interpretation. In contrast, international law has evolved considerably in relation to the protection of some groups and their culture, so that customary international law, and especially international human rights law, may be deemed to prohibit group cultural destruction and consequently entail State responsibility. The thesis argues that this evolution could ground the articulation of an international law-based approach to the concept of cultural genocide both by allowing for its criminalisation through the crime against humanity of persecution and by providing tools for a stronger framework of State responsibility, especially in the context of genocide prevention. Furthermore, this approach would give rise to the possibility of further conceptualising reparation for the intended cultural damage. Against this background, the thesis firstly draws conclusions as to the irrelevance of enclosing the debate exclusively at the level of the genocide legal framework and, secondly, as to the relevance of cultural genocide as a 'paralegal concept', an understanding which would drive the interpretation of international legal norms, especially in cases involving indigenous peoples' cultural harm.
LC Subject Heading: Genocide (International law); Human rights; Cultural property -- Protection (International law); Multiculturalism -- Law and legislation
Defence date: 10 June 2014; Examining Board: Professor Francesco Francioni, EUI (Supervisor) Professor A. Dirk Moses, EUI (Co-Supervisor) Professor Yvonne Donders, University of Amsterdam Professor Ana F. Vrdoljak, University of Technology, Sydney.; This PhD thesis was awarded the Cassese Prize.
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