15 October 2012

In 1948 the United Nations signed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, drafted by the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin. 60 years later lawyers and historians gathered in the Peace Palace in The Hague to elaborate on the practice of the Treaty.

Dr. Raphael Lemkin

What are the limitations of the definition and what do historians think of it? Genocide is sometimes called the "crime of all crimes". The use of the term 'genocide' can have a huge impact, in political, financial and moral terms. In the court room and in international courts and tribunals historians and lawyers are clashing. As a rule lawyers stick to the definition of genocide in a strict sense, sometimes ignoring the societal impact of the crime. Historians plea for integrating historical research into the process of truth finding, although they do not always anticipate on its legal consequences.

On the occasion of the publication of the collected lectures of the conference at the Peace Palace, The Genocide Convention. The Legacy of 60 Years, on 29 October 2012 (Spui 25, 20.00) historians and lawyers discuss the usability of the international convention that should have prevented all genocides from recent history.


  • Nena Tromp-Vrkic, associate professor Eastern European Studies, UvA, and (former) researcher for the research team of the public prosecutor of the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal former Yugoslavia).
  • Phon van der Biesen, lawyer and former deputee agent for the Bosnian genocide case, ICJ, Bosnia vs. Serbia.
  • Eric Ketelaar, Emeritus professor Archivistics at the UvA, specialised in collective memory and archives as institutions for memory.