Genocide and the Question of Motives

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Specific intent is acknowledged as one of the defining characteristics of genocide. Motives on the other hand, are often considered irrelevant for the consideration of the crime. Yet, there is reason to be more discerning. To begin with, the question whether dolus specialis of genocide can itself be considered a motive, has been subject of debate since the drafting of the Genocide Convention. A further significance of motives arises when the view is followed that genocide requires specific underlying motives, such as hatred of the protected group. Then there is the question whether the presence of certain motives might exclude the co-existence of genocidal intent. The author argues that motives have a direct impact on the evaluation of the substantive law of genocide, and that specific motives can occupy so strong a place in the mind of the perpetrator that they may even replace genocidal intent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of International Criminal Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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