The Capacity of the Contemporary International Law in Recognition of the Concept of Cultural Genocide

Document Type : academic


1 assistant professor of law university of Isfahan

2 PhD Student of International Law, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad Branch


The concept of “cultural genocide”, ie. the deliberate destruction of monuments, identity or culture of a group without its physical removal, although specified in Article 3 of the Draft Convention of Genocide, was finally removed from the final text and limited the genocide to killing a national, ethnic, racial and religious group. Other binding international instruments as well as some international case law so far have refused to accept this concept. However, there are still crimes and acts that are being committed based on cultural factors or intentionally for destruction of cultural symbols and traditions and they are not defined as the international crimes and genocide. But, they are closest to the concept of cultural genocide or cultural destruction. This article aims to consider capacities of the contemporary international law in recognition of the concept of cultural genocide and criminalization of the offences committed against a nation’s culture in a new approach. Finally, it concludes that present positive international law does not accept this theory, yet signs of this concept’s grounds of appearance can be traced.


  • الف) فارسی

    ـ کتاب

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    ـ مقاله

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    ب) انگلیسی

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    - Articles

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    • Leon, Terri, “The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Three Case Studies,” New England International and Comparative Law, Annual 6, 2000.
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    - Online Articles

    • David Nersessian, “Rethinking Cultural Genocide under International Law Human Rights Dialogue: "Cultural Rights"”, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, 2005.
    • Puxley, Chinta, “Aboriginal Adoptees Suing Ottawa for ‘Cultural Genocide’”, Global News, February 9, 2015.
    • Noradounkian, Emma, “Destroying the Memory of a People: ISIS' Cultural Genocide of Religious Minorities”, An online article published by Assyrian International News Agency, available at: (last visited on: 15/01/2016)
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    - Instruments

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    • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.


    • The Crime of Genocide, GA Res 96 (I), UN GAOR, 1st sess, 55th mtg, UN Doc A/RES/96(I) (11 December 1946). 
    • the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; adopted by the General Assembly under Resolution 61/295, 107th plenary meeting, 13 September 2007.


    - Case Laws

    • Application of the Convention of Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro), Order of 13 September 1993.
    • Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia and Montenegro) (Merits) [2007] ICJ Rep 4. 
    • Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (New Application: 2002) (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Rwanda), ICJ General List No. 126, Jurisdiction and Admissibility, 3 February 2006.
    • Beanal v. Freeport-McMoran, Inc., 197 F.3d 161, 167-169 (United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit. 1999).
    • Prosecutor v. Krstic’, IT-98-33-A, Appeals Chamber Judgment, 19 April 2004.
    • Prosecutor v. Krstic’, IT-98-33-T, Trial Chamber Judgment, 2 August 2001.
    • Reservations to the Convention on Genocide, Advisory Opinion, ICJ Reports 1951.