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In December 1948, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in order to internationally prohibit genocide. The convention defines genocide as any act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Such acts can include the killing of or causing of physical/mental harm to members of a group; inflicting on the group living conditions calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, the imposition of measures intended to prevent births within the group, and the forcible transfer of children of the group to another group.

In international law, genocide is considered an international crime that concerns the global community as a whole and must therefore be prosecuted across country borders. Today, generally acknowledged genocides include, among others, the German genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama in Namibia (1904-1908), the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire (1915-1916), the crimes against the Jewish population in Europe during the Holocaust (1941-1945) and the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda (April-July 1994).

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