A public dialogue on the recognition of genocides in the world took place in the Museum

29 April 2024

Why is it important to qualify and recognise genocides as genocides? And why is the international community not always unanimous in this process? It was discussed during the public dialogue “Recognition of genocides in the world: domestic and foreign experience,” held on April 27 at the Holodomor Museum.

Candidate of historical sciences and lead researcher of the National Museum of the Holodomor-genocide, Andrii Ivanets, emphasised that the modern war of Russia against Ukraine has all the signs of the crime of genocide, but today only seven states (Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Canada, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Ireland), and PACE and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly also recognised Russia’s actions in Ukraine as an act of genocide.

Why are the rest of the states that are watching this genocide literally in real-time hesitating?

“Because, first of all, there is a legal complexity because this crime in court needs a serious evidentiary basis, which must prove precisely the intent to destroy a specific ethnic group. Secondly, as Timothy Snyder, a professor at Yale University, emphasises, the recognition of this fact will require the West to take appropriate actions and raise the question of the inaction of the international community,” Andrii Ivanets says.

Vitaly Chernoivanenko, president of the Ukrainian Association for Jewish Studies and senior researcher of the Department for Jewish Studies of the National Library of Ukraine named after V.I. Vernadskyi, spoke about the problems accompanying the recognition of the Holocaust as genocide and the general formation of memory politics around it. He emphasises that this also did not happen immediately after committing the genocide. It was a difficult and rather long way. In the first post-war decades, scientific research and documentation of the crime continued. However, at the international level, the problem was not heard – the Jews continued to experience their tragedy alone. Through literature and scientific research, the topic gradually went beyond the boundaries of the Jewish community.

“The issue of the Holocaust begins to sound louder in the 70s, when the Yad Vashem organisation is created in Israel, but mainly thanks to the creation of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, when it becomes a state policy in the United States. In general, the problem began to voice most noticeably and separately in the 90s. That is, 50 years passed from the moment of the genocide to the moment when individual international institutions and states began to talk about it. Although, it would seem, the crime is documented, it is obvious and as if there should be no questions here,” says Vitaly Chernoivanenko.

Oleksandr Bozhko, Armenian scholar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Armenia (1996-2001, 2005-2010) talked about the Armenian genocide, which, according to him, “became the first mass murder of people on ethnic grounds” that was recognised by other states. He also shared the consequences of the genocide and ways to overcome post-genocide trauma in Armenian society.