The Crime Without A Name

Defining Genocide

What is this thing?

This is a Smore. Think of it as an online flyer. Less paper, a whole lot cooler, and just so much better than a boring worksheet!

As you scroll through this lesson be sure to watch the videos, analyze the pictures and write any important information in your notes (better yet... type it up on your device).

"Mr. Kostiuk, you're not here, so what are we doing?"

Today we are going to spend some time going beyond the concepts of human behaviour and trying to bridge the gap from individual action to large scale atrocities. So, how do we define the crime of Genocide? How do you convince people to "believe the unbelievable"?What does it look like? How did we get to this understanding of what it is and what do we do if it happens?

Defining the Crime

Think/Pair/Share with a Partner

Record your responses for the following questions.

  1. Without looking up the UN definition, how do YOU define the following terms: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes.
  2. What are some of the differences between the three terms?
  3. Why is it important to have different terms for each of these crimes?

Once you have written down a few of your own ideas, share them with a partner and add to your own definitions.

  • Did you have any different ideas?
  • On what point did you disagree?

Video: Raphael Lemkin

As you watch the video, answer the following questions.

  1. Why was it so important to Lemkin to get the Convention ratified?
  2. How did his personal life contribute to his efforts at the United Nations?
  3. Why was there opposition to the ratification of the Convention?
  4. Why do you think it took 50 years for the Convention to be used?
  5. What does the ratification of the Convention mean for the UN? The World?

Didn't get all the answers the first time? Watch it again.

Raphael Lemkin's Fight Against The Crime Without A Name

Photo Analysis

Now that we have a better understanding of the definition of genocide, look at the following images and decide, based on what you see if they meet the criteria.


Click on the link to read an excerpt from the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment ofGenocide.

Once you have read the official definition answer the following:

  1. How does it compare to YOUR original definition?
  2. What was in the UN version that was missing from your definition?
  3. Is there anything you would add to the UN version?


"Only man has law....You must build the law" - Raphael Lemkin

Lemkin felt so strongly about his purpose to define the crime of genocide and to have the UN ratify the convention that he committed his life to this pursuit. Think about what has come from the Convention, was it worth it?

Write your response in your notes. Be prepared to share some of your ideas tomorrow.