The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was signed on December 9, 1948 and came into effect on January 12, 1951. The convention was passed to outlaw actions similar to the Holocaust by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The Convention defines genocide in legal terms and the crimes that can be punished under this convention. All participating countries are advised to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime. About 140 States have ratified the convention.
Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as any acts listed by the convention, committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such. The acts listed by the convention that may result in genocide are: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Crimes that can be punished under the convention are defined under Article 3 of the Convention. They are: genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit genocide; and any complicity in genocide.