Without question, the 20th century has been permanently scarred by genocides. That is not to say that genocides have not occurred in earlier times; one need only to look at Imperial Rome during the Jewish uprising in ancient Palestine to find government-sponsored violence against a particular group of people. The extensive killing of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government was the first “modern genocide” of the 20th century, and showed how thorough, systematic, and widespread mass exterminations could be when a government was behind the planning. This entry provides an overview of 20th-century genocide and discusses the UN Genocide Convention.

It was the knowledge of Enver Pasha’s Ottoman Turkish Empire’s attempt to wipe out the Armenian population that inspired a Polish-Jewish jurist, Raphael ...

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