The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in Paris by the General Assembly of United Nations on December 10, 1948, states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
The day before the General Assembly approved in New York the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defined as the intentional destruction, total or partial, of a “national, ethnic, racial or religious group”, with the well-known exception of the opposition political groups in the Soviet bloc countries, that feared to be involved in the adversaries’ persecutions charges (the so-called enemy of the people, sentenced to forced labour in gulags). The term genocide stimulated many debates between historians, sociologists and law and politics theorists, in a contemporary and general tendency to assimilate it - beyond the Convention definition of 1948 - to overall mass violences, single episodes of slaughter and persecution able to raise public opinion disdain. In so doing, its most scientific and peculiar traits get lost, whereas it is possibile to highlight the main theme, a moral theme, in the condemnation of any persecution against innocent victims, evoked in the most efficient way by the call for genocide.
Therefore, it becomes the more common to gather, in oder to describe new slaughters, the term genocide to the expression “crimes against Humanity”: this all-embracing phrase describes a general violation of human rights, including every phenomenon of violence towards unarmed innocents, without loosing the emotional impact related to the evocation of genocide.
Human rights violation is not confined to physical violence; it refers to every condition of denial of rights mentioned in the definition of the first article of the Universal Declaration of 1948: freedom, equity and dignity of every human being.
Beside the right to life, the Declaration lists, in its first 28 articles, the specification of the general assumption, referring to: democracy and the practice of citizenship in its various political implications; freedom of thinking, expression, religion and cult; instruction, privacy, property and safety; fair trial; international asylum against persecution; acceptable material, economic, social and cultural life conditions. In the last two articles, 29th and 30th, the Declaration reminds us that the practice of any right entails a specular duty, that every State needs to ensure for the “general wellness of a democratic society”.
The international commitment for the Declaration respect was recently put into effect, as the geopolitical bonds imposed by the Cold War fell, with the institution of International Penal Tribunals in order to prosecute specific genocidary crimes - as the ones happened in the ‘90s in Rwanda and in ex-Yugoslavia - and the International Criminal Court, in Hague, with jurisdiction on all of the acceding States (more than 120).