Since it came into force in 1951, the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a document created with the explicit purpose of "liberat[ing] mankind from such an odious scourge," has largely failed to deliver on the promises it enshrined. The twentieth century bore witness to an increasing frequency of genocides, a pattern which is continuing into the twenty-first century with the outbreak of arguably genocidal violence in Darfur in 2003, and more recently, the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2014. This article analyses the failure of the Genocide Convention by exploring its deficiencies alongside issues of state sovereignty and levels of political interest, and particularly, the relationship between these issues, in the context of the specific cases of Cambodia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Understanding the lessons of these past failures is crucial as the UN attempts to address genocidal violence in the CAR today.


I would like to thank Aristotle Kallis for his invaluable insights, support and guidance in writing this article. This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/J500094/1].