Genocide Resolution Marking Convention Anniversary Introduced in US Senate

WASHINGTON–DC–Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) has introduced legislation (S.Res.307) recognizing the 15th anniversary of U.S. implementation of the Genocide Convention as a "principled stand" by the American people "toward ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust–the Armenian Genocide–the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda–among others–will be used to help prevent future genocides," reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

"We welcome the introduction of this legislation and encourage all Americans to call on their Senators to cosponsor S.Res.307," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "As Armenian Americans – as descendents of those who survived the fires of the Armenian Genocide – we have a moral obligation to do all that we can to strengthen our national resolve to ensure that the horrors of genocide are never again visited upon any people."

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide–first approved in 1948–confirms that genocide is a crime under international law and defines genocide as actions committed with intent to destroy a national–ethnical–racial or religious group. The Convention calls on signatory states to enact domestic legislation to provide effective penalties for persons who are guilty of genocide.

The United States–under President Harry Truman–was the first nation to sign the Convention–although the U.S. Senate did not ratify the treaty until 1986. The Congress subsequently adopted implementing language–known as the Proxmire Act–in 1988 and President Reagan signed this legislation into law on November 4th–1988. This law (18 U.S.C. 1091) formally criminalized genocide under the U.S. law. November of 2003 will mark the 15th anniversary of the U.S. becoming a full party to his landmark international treaty.

S.Res.307 specifically notes that despite the international community’s consensus against genocide–"denial of past instances of genocide continues and many thousands of innocent people continue to be victims of genocide."

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee–chaired by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT)–and may also be referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee–chaired by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE).

Text of S.Res.307:

107th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. RES. 307

In the Senate of the United States

Reaffirming support of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and anticipating the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987 (the Proxmire Act) on November 4–2003.

Whereas–in 1948–in the shadow of the Holocaust–the international community responded to Nazi Germany’s methodically orchestrated acts of genocide by approving the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

Whereas the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide confirms that genocide is a crime under international law–defines genocide as certain acts committed with intent to destroy a national–ethnical–racial or religious group–and provides that parties to the Convention undertake to enact domestic legislation to provide effective penalties for persons who are guilty of genocide;

Whereas the United States–under President Harry Truman–stood as the first nation to sign the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

Whereas the United States Senate ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on February 19–1986;

Whereas the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987 (the Proxmire Act) (Public Law 100-606)–signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 4–1988–amended the United States Code (18 U.S.C. 1091) to criminalize genocide under the United States law;

Whereas the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act marked a principled stand by the United States against the crime of genocide and an important step toward ensuring that the lessons of the Holocaust–the Armenian Genocide–the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda–among others–will be used to help prevent future genocides;

Whereas–despite the international community’s consensus against genocide–as demonstrated by the fact that 133 nations are party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and through other instrumen’s and actions–denial of past instances of genocide continues and many thousands of innocent people continue to be victims of genocide; and

Whereas November 4–2003 is the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987 (the Proxmire Act): Now–therefore–be it

Resolved–that the Senate–

(1) reaffirms its support of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

(2) anticipates the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987 (the Proxmire Act) on November 4–2003; and

(3) encourages the people and Government of the United States to rededicate themselves to the cause of bringing an end to the crime of genocide.

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