Lemkin, Genocide & the Modern World - Part 1date: 2022-12-01


Raphael Lemkin was a Polish Jewish lawyer best known for coining the term “genocide” and a key person behind the UN Genocide Convention. For that work, he was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On the 50th anniversary of the Convention entering into force, Lemkin was honored by the UN Secretary-General as an inspiring example of moral engagement.


Lemkin was a complex person with divided loyalties and life experiences that influenced his work. He is often portrayed as a lone ranger, but he was quite effective in gaining support for his ideas, especially among women groups who made the UN Genocide Convention possible. Lemkin was deeply concerned that Stalin managed to change much of his original draft and redifined crime of "genocide" as conceived by Lemkin into a far lesser crime in the UN Convention.


While modern applications of the Genocide Convention have been quite limited, some countires, such as Poland, carried out successful prosecutions of genocide under local laws.


Russian aggression against Ukraine has many indicia of “genocide” and we will discuss potential uses of the UN Convention to prosecute the crime of “genocide” and “incitement to genocide” as it applies to crimes being committed by the Russians in Ukraine.


Part 1 of the Jagiellonian Law Society’s webinar on Lemkin, Genocide, and the Modern World featured distinguished international faculty and took place on December 1, 2022. 


The recording of this webinar is found at:






Professor Doug Irvin-Erickson - Assistant Professor of political science and history of law, Carter School Director of the Genocide Prevention Program, G. Mason University, author of Raphaël Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide, Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 2017, https://douglasirvinerickson.org/).

Topic: Lemkin and the Soviets: Political History of the U.N. Genocide Convention


Professor Roman Kwiecien, Professor and Chair, Department of International Law, Jagiellonian University, an arbitrator at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (the Hague) and an arbitrator at the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration within the OSCE (Geneva).

Topic: Crime of genocide under the approach of the International Court of Justice.


Professor Marcin Marcinko, Professor of Law, Jagiellonian University, Chairman of the National Commission for Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law at the Main Board of the Polish Red Cross, and a lecturer and co-organizer of the Polish School of International Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict.

Topic: The crime of genocide in the jurisprudence of the Polish Supreme National Tribunal


Dr. Ivan Horodyskyy, J.D., Ivan Horodyskyy is a Ukrainian attorney and a Director of the Dnistrianskyi Center for Law and Politics in Lviv, Ukraine. He is a Board Member of the Ukrainian Bar Association and a co-author of the book on Lemkin which was to be published when the Russian invasion of Ukraine interrupted the publication; his book will be published shortly in Ukraine and Canada.

Topic: Concept of genocide as per Lemkin and in the UN Genocide Convention


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