To learn about genocides is to reach into unending layers of horror, and to recoil from human nature.

These awful episodes have been perpetrated throughout and beyond recorded history, but genocide is a new word, synthesised in the lead-up to the 1946 Nuremberg trials by leading international lawyer Raphael Lemkin, from the Greek genos (race or tribe) and the Latin for killing, cide. Lemkin believed there needed to be a word to fit a definition of heinous killings intended to destroy a group. The parallel thinking of another brilliant legal mind, Hersch Lauterpacht, held that mass, systematically planned murders were, foremost, crimes against identifiable individuals and, collectively, against all humanity...

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