What Is Ethnic Cleansing? | NowThis World

Over a year has passed since Myanmar Security Forces launched a brutal offensive against the country’s ethnic and religious minority group, the Rohingya people Since then, human rights groups and World leaders first condemned the violence as an act of: Ethnic cleansing

It’s been characterized by many as ethnic cleansing It's a textbook example of ethnic cleansing It's a phrase that has been used to describe some of the worst atrocities throughout history, so why isn’t it illegal according to international law? First, ethnic cleansing largely refers to the expulsion of an ethnic or religious group of people from an area of land But legally, a clear definition does not exist Because of this lack of legal definition by the United Nations, ethnic cleansing is technically not considered a crime under international law

The first time the term was used on the world stage, was during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s The United Nations Commission of Experts was tasked with investigating if violations of international humanitarian law was committed there On May 24, 1994 — that commission released its findings where it described ethnic cleansing as: Following the report’s release, media and scholars began using the term for incidents of the systematic and violent removal of an undesired ethnic or religious groups from a given territory And despite that commission’s description of the term and public use of the phrase, the United Nations General Assembly never officially defined it, nor made it an international crime That’s because it concluded that acts of ethnic cleansing could often fall within other specific war crimes or genocide

Although the line between genocide and ethnic cleansing often become blurred, they aren’t exactly the same thing –it all comes down to intent Here’s the difference: Genocide is recognized as a crime under international law since 1948 The Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defined that certain acts of violence against national, ethnic, racial, or religious groups with the intent to destroy that group — would be classified as genocide While the act of ethnic cleansing, according to scholars, is more about geography and the removal of specific groups of people from particular areas of land To put it simply, genocide is an intentional act meant to eliminate a group of people, when ethnic cleaning is more broadly about removing them

So genocide can be an act of ethnic cleansing But not every act of ethnic cleansing is considered Genocide

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