The word genocide was first coined by Polish lawyer Raph?el Lemkin in 1944 in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. It consists of the Greek prefix genos, meaning race or tribe, and the Latin suffix cide, meaning killing. Lemkin developed the term partly in response to the Nazi policies of systematic murder of Jewish people during the Holocaust, but also in response to previous instances in history of targeted actions aimed at the destruction of particular groups of people.

Later on, Raph?el Lemkin led the campaign to have genocide recogniZed and codified as an international crime. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Convention, we look back on the moments that led to the genocide being recognized as a crime under international law in 1946 by the United Nations General Assembly AND being codified as an independent crime in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention has been ratified by 153 States (as of April 2022).

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has repeatedly stated that the Convention embodies principles that are part of general customary international law. This means that whether or not States have ratified the Genocide Convention, they are all bound as a matter of law by the principle that genocide is a crime prohibited under international law.