Theses Master's

A Postcolonial Analysis of the Genocide Convention With Reference to the Lived Experiences of the Palestinian People Under Settler Colonial Rule

Bell, Claudia Laurel

Native people under colonial rule have suffered a multitude of human rights abuses throughout history. The human rights community has attempted to address this by granting colonised peoples self-determination, in addition to creating international laws that seek to prevent and punish the mistreatment of vulnerable people more broadly. However, a growing number of scholars have argued that international human rights law not only fails to sufficiently account for abuses that continue to be perpetrated against native peoples, but also, by doing so, actively contributes to their marginalisation. I will follow this academic trajectory, and will argue that the Genocide Convention specifically, was constructed in accordance with the vested interests of colonial powers. The resulting definition of genocide omitted acts occuring to native people, such as ethnic cleansing and forced assimilation, as it suited the political agendas of colonial countries. I will challenge this position and assert that if genocide is to be understood as the destruction of the group, rather than its individual constituent parts, then any action designed to intentionally decimate the group, (as a metaphysical entity existing beyond its human participants), should be considered genocidal. More specifically, non-lethal methods, often referred to as cultural genocide, should be included in the Genocide Convention. I will contextualise this argument within Palestine and apply a settler-colonial lens to the engagement between the Israeli State and the Palestinian people. I will argue that settler-colonisation has an intrinsically genocidal dimension; it follows therefore that the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli State can be plausibly considered. It will be concluded that if international human rights law is to effectively protect vulnerable communities from human rights abuses, such as genocide, it needs to be consistently evaluated and reconsidered from a multitude of perspectives.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Slaughter, Joseph R.
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
August 24, 2020