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Groups Defined by Gender and the Genocide Convention

Journal article
Authors Filip Strandberg Hassellind
Published in Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal
Volume 14
Issue 1
Pages 60-75
ISSN 1911-0359
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Law
Pages 60-75
Language en
Subject categories International law


This article explores the crime of genocide in connectivity to groups defined by gender. Its aim is to investigate whether including groups defined by gender as a protected group in the Genocide Convention appears legally plausible. It begins by probing the historical origins of the concept of genocide. This exposition emanates into an analytical examination of the rationale of protecting human groups in international criminal law. Against this background, the article advocates an understanding of the crime of genocide as a rights-implementing institute. Subsequently, it employs an ejusdem generis analysis to assess whether groups defined by gender are coherent with the current canon of the protected groups, and if similar treatment thereby can be warranted. It then turns to examine other international law instruments, to expose that none of these are suitable proxies in dealing with gender-specific genocides. From this perspective, the article suggests that the content of the crime of genocide is not determinate, but rather emerges as a battlefield for hegemonic interests. Hence, it is easily discernible that the way in which the current construction of the protected groups in the Genocide Convention relates to gender groups reflects a deliberate choice. The article concludes with asserting that the choice represents a lacuna in international criminal law that in the end compromises the legitimacy of the crime of genocide, since the personal scope of the crime of genocide risks being in discord with current social and political trajectories.

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