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Conference: A Contextual View of Genocidal Intent, University of Leicester, 22-23 September 2011‏

A Contextual View of Genocidal Intent

This conference seeks to investigate one of the most important aspects of the phenomenon of genocide: intent, an element which the International Law Commission recognised as the "distinguishing characteristic" of genocide. But aspects of intent �" its very concept, its significance for the disciplines which engage in genocide studies and the individual elements it comprises, are subject of considerable controversy.

In historical studies, the very question whether the phenomenon of genocide requires intent, has given rise to passionate debate. To many scholars who approach genocide from the social sciences, it is not acceptable that in some cases accusations of genocide should be dismissed because the intent to target a protected group ‘as such’ cannot be established. The necessity of intent moves to the very centre of debate in case studies as diverse as ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian war, colonial wars against Native Americans and the African slave trade.

Genocide scholars who examine the crime from its psychological background, have for a long time considered the intent of various groups and perpetrators which are involved in shaping the context of genocidal campaigns: instigators, followers and by-standers to the events. At the core of their investigations are often questions which go beyond the restrictions of a purely legal analysis: aspects such as motives for genocide occupy a prominent space.

International criminal law proceeds on the basis of the Genocide Convention which stipulates that the perpetrator has to have the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a racial, religious, ethnic or national group as such". But questions about the precise standard of intent (a cognitive or a volitional basis?), about the interpretation of the words "in whole or in part" and about acceptable evidence for genocidal intent, continue to have considerable influence on the current debate and often enough receive contradictory treatment by the international criminal tribunals.

This conference will take an interdisciplinary approach by bringing together scholars from various disciplines to debate genocidal intent and its significance, but also to challenge the various concepts which were developed by different schools. By so doing, it will not only promote mutual understanding of one of the most significant crimes on the international scene, but will also aid in the formulation of strategies to deal with the phenomenon of genocide itself.

The conference themes are informed by the various questions which genocidal intent raises. This includes (but is not limited to) the following key points which will be subjected to discussion:

• Is intent of importance to all disciplines which debate genocide?
• Does intent necessarily lead to genocide in the social sense of the term?
• What motives induce the formation of intent?
• Is a mere knowledge standard sufficient for the assumption of intent?
• Is the intent to remove a group from a territory the same as the intent to destroy it?
• Is the intent of "bystanders" of importance?
• What is acceptable evidence for genocidal intent?

Speakers at the conference include Professor William Schabas (Director of the Irish Centre of Human Rights and author of Genocide in International Law), who will give the keynote address on 22 September; and Professors Hans Vest, Samuel Totten and Paul Bartrop.

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the British Academy for the 2011 Conference on Genocidal Intent.

School of Historical Studies / School of Law
Conference, 21 �" 23 September 2011, University of Leicester, UK

Dr Paul Behrens, School of Law

Dr Olaf Jensen, Director, Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
School Office:             +44(0)116-252-2802      

Danielle Jackson, Admin School of Historical Studies
School Office:             +44(0)116-252-2800      

Visit Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Website at Leicester University or on Facebook

Draft Programme

Wednesday, 21 September 2011
University of Leicester

17.30 �" 18.30 Sixth Aubrey Newman Lecture
Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 3

Professor William A Schabas
(NUI Galway, Irish Centre for Human Rights)

"Proving Genocidal Intent. Is it really so difficult?"

19.00 Wine Reception and Introduction to the Conference Dr Olaf Jensen and Dr Paul Behrens (University of Leicester)

Thursday, 22 September 2011
University of Leicester

9.00 Registration and Coffee
9.20 Welcome
9.30 Introduction Dr Olaf Jensen:
The Leicester Project on Genocide and the Holocaust

Session 1: Evaluating Genocidal Intent

10.00 Keynote Speech:
Prof William A Schabas
(NUI Galway, Irish Centre for Human Rights)
Understanding Genocidal Intent
10.30 Discussion
11.00 Dr Paul Behrens
(University of Leicester)
Between Stigma and Protection: The Role of Genocidal Intent in the Law
11.20 Discussion
11.40 Prof Hans Vest
(University of Bern)
Cognitive and volitional standard of intent
12.00 Discussion

12.20 �" 13.30 Lunch

Session 2: Genocidal Intent: Origins and Prevention

13.30 Prof Monique Eckmann
(University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland, Geneva)
Prof Dennis Klein
(Kean University)
“Intimate Killing”: Reassessing the “Intent to Destroy”
13.50 Discussion
14.10 Dr Ekkehard Strauss
(formerly of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
Intent and the Obligation to Prevent Genocide
14.30 Discussion

Session 3: Discourse and Genocidal Intent

14.50 Carol Staunton
(National University of Ireland, Galway)
“A necessity imposed upon us”? Parliamentary Discourse and Identifying Genocidal Intent 15.10 Discussion

15.30 �" 16.10

Session 4: Intent and the Concept of Destruction

16.10 Thomas Forster
(University of Bern)
Destroying What, Exactly? Genocidal Intent and Group Conceptions
16.30 Discussion
16.50 Clotilde Pegorier
(University of Lucerne)
The Spectrum of Violence:
Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing and the Question of Intent
17.10 Discussion
17.30 Justine Jones
(University of Groningen)
Ethnic Cleansing and Genocidal Intent
17.50 Discussion
18.10 End of Day 1

19.30 �" 21.00 Dinner (if booked as part of the conference package)

Friday, 23 September 2011
University of Leicester

10.30 Welcome to the Second Day

Session 5: Proving Genocidal Intent

10.40 Prof Samuel Totten
(University of Arkansas)
What is Acceptable Evidence for Genocidal Intent: The Darfur Crisis and the Debate Over Whether Genocide Was Perpetrated by Government of Sudan Troops and Janjaweed

11.00 Discussion
11.20 Prof Paul Bartrop
(Bialik College, Melbourne)
“Action Equals Intent:” The Equation of Criminal Actions with the Issue of Intention, An Historical Perspective
11.40 Discussion
12.00 Dr Olaf Jensen
(University of Leicester)
Evaluating Intent: The Inconsistent Nazi and the Dynamics of Killing
12.20 Discussion

12.40 �" 13.40 Lunch

Session 6: Genocidal Intent: Selected Cases

13.40 Prof Michelle Kelso
(George Washington University)
The Genocide of Roma During WWII: An Investigation of the Intent of the Romanian Regime Toward its Romani Populations

14.00 Discussion
14.20 Dr Gillian Wigglesworth
(Barrister and Lecturer)
‘The Srebrenica massacre and its aftermath: reflections on genocidal intent in the light of the judgment(s) of the ICTY in the Popovic case’ 14.40 Discussion

15.00 �" 15.40 Coffee

Session 7: Genocidal Intent and the Wider Context

15.40 Freda Njugu Kabatsi
(Senior State Attorney, Uganda)
The Role of Motives for the Evaluation of Genocidal Intent
16.00 Discussion
16.20 Dr Caroline Fournet
(University of Groningen)
Diverging judicial approaches to genocidal intent: the impact of non-legal factors on judicial decision-making
16.40 Discussion
17.00 Dr Gregory Kent
(Roehampton University)
Actus-intention connection: how ICTY judicial methodologies confound ‘common sense’ and expert views on genocide in Bosnia
17.20 Discussion
17.40 End of Day 2

Registration Procedure

Thank you very much for your interest in the 2011 Conference "A Contextual View on Genocidal Intent". To register, please use our electronic system at . Registration will be open until 20 September 2011. Please note that only a limited number of places are available.
Further details, including information about the conference venue, will be sent to all attendees.

Attendance Rates Please note that attendees have to make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation. Rate 1A: £ 75 All-inclusive two day conference package. Includes attendance on 21 September 2011 (The 6th Aubrey Newman Lecture) and wine reception afterwards, Attendance on 22 and 23 September 2011, coffee / tea, 2 lunches, 1 conference dinner on Thursday 22 September 2011. Rate 1B: £ 50 Includes attendance on 21-23 September 2011, coffee / tea, 2 lunches (but no dinner). Rate 2: £20 Student rate. Includes attendance on 22 and 23 September 2011, coffee / tea, 2 lunches, 1 conference dinner on Thursday, 22 September 2011. Proof of student status must be e-mailed to the organisers. Please note that only 10 student places are available. The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the British Academy for the 2011 Conference on Genocidal Intent.
Dr Olaf Jensen
Director, Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Leicester
School Office:             +44(0)116-252-2802      

Visit the website at