Armenia and the G-word: The Law and the Politics

  • Geoffrey Robertson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide book series (PSHG)


‘Genocide’ in common parlance is the word that comes to mind whenever a massive death toll results from a state-backed onslaught on people of a disliked, demeaned and different ethnic group. As a matter of international law, a state is responsible for genocide when its agents, with the intention of destroying in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, kill or cause serious mental or bodily harm to, or inflict destructive conditions of life on, such a group. There is never much doubt about the sufferings undergone by the group — the question of responsibility generally hinges on whether there is proof that political or military leaders intended to rid the country of the group as a social unit. It is not sufficient just to disperse its members, but it is certainly not necessary to liquidate them all. Size, in fact, does not matter — the World Court (the ICJ) held that there was genocide at Srebrenica, which involved the killing of 7,000 Muslim men and the deportation of 18,000 women and children.


International Criminal Court Military Leader Genocide Convention Legal Judgment Genocidal Intent 
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  1. 5.
    P. Balakian (2003) The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response ( New York: HarperCollins ), pp. 212–16.Google Scholar
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    See generally, R. Bevan (2006) The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War ( London: Reaktion Books ), pp. 52–9 on the destruction of Armenian monuments and buildings, especially churches.Google Scholar
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© Geoffrey Robertson, QC 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Robertson

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