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Genocide - Origins And Evolution Of The Concept, The Genocide Convention, Persistent Controversies And Ambiguities, Bibliography

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Gastrula to Glow discharge

Mass slaughter of human beings by other human beings has been a recurrent phenomenon over the centuries, but until recently neither governments nor international legal specialists had sought to devise formal rules and institutions that could help prevent, or if necessary punish, the perpetrators of large-scale atrocities. Massacres that took place during and immediately after World War I, when Turks killed hundreds of thousands of Armenians, and the systematic annihilation of millions of Jews and hundreds of thousands of Gypsies (Roma) by Nazi Germany during World War II, gave rise to the concept of genocide, which is defined by Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." Scholars have differed in their analyses of the concept, but the most widely accepted understanding of genocide pertains to the deliberate slaughter of vast numbers of human beings.

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