There is a lot of confusion in the world today about the difference between ethnic cleansing and genocide. Many people use the terms interchangeably, but there is a very important distinction between the two. Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of an ethnic or religious group from their homes or land. Genocide, on the other hand, is the deliberate killing of members of an ethnic or religious group with the intent to destroy that group entirely. So what exactly separates these two horrific acts? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Ethnic Cleansing?
Ethnic cleansing is the systematic removal of an ethnic or religious group from a area through violence or deportation. The term Ethnic cleansing was first used during the Bosnian war in the early 1990s.
- Ethnic cleansing usually happens during wartime as a way for one group to gain complete control over an area. The goal is to create an ethnically or religiously homogeneous population.
- Ethnic cleansing can also happen as a way to force out people who are considered to be unwelcome or undesirable. In some cases, ethnic cleansing has been carried out with the aim of destroying a population completely.
- This was the case during the Holocaust, when Nazi Germany sought to exterminate all Jews from Europe. Ethnic cleansing can have devastating consequences for both individuals and entire communities. It often leads to mass displacement, human rights abuses, and even death.
What is Genocide?
- Genocide is the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. The term was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer who fled the Nazis. Genocide has occurred throughout history, but some of the most infamous examples include the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the Rwandan Genocide.
- Although the term Genocide is commonly used to refer to mass killings, it actually has a very specific legal definition. According to Article II of the United Nations Convention on Genocide, Genocide includes any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy a group in whole or in part: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions on the group that are calculated to lead to its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
- To date, 139 countries have ratified the Genocide Convention, making Genocide an international crime. However, prosecuting those responsible for Genocide can be extremely difficult, as evidenced by the fact that only a handful of individuals have ever been convicted of this crime. Given its horrific nature, it is clear that Genocide is one of the worst crimes that a person can commit.
Difference between Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide
Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic, racial and/or religious groups from a territory by a more powerful group. This removal can be done through violence, intimidation, terrorism, and economic or political pressure. Ethnic cleansing usually happens during wartime in an effort to create ethnically homogeneous lands.
Genocide is defined by the United Nations as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group:
-Killing members of the group
-Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
-Deliberately inflicting on the groups conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
-Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
-Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Ethnic cleansing is often seen as a precursor to genocide, but they are not the same thing. Ethnic cleansing does not necessarily involve extermination (although it can). The goal of ethnic cleansing is remove certain groups from an area, while the goal of genocide is to exterminate those groups.
The definition of genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. Ethnic cleansing falls under the category of genocide but it is not as severe. Ethnic cleansing is the expulsion of a particular ethnic or religious group from a specific area with the intent to cleanse that region of that group. It can be done through violence or threats of violence, propaganda, and other measures intended to dehumanize the target population. While ethnic cleansing may seem like a less severe act than genocide at first glance, it can often lead to genocide if left unchecked.