Skip to main content

Timeline Browse

1950–1990s: The Promise Goes Unfulfilled

1950–1990s: The Promise Goes Unfulfilled

Not one country invoked the Genocide Convention when the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia caused the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people between 1975 and 1979. Yet Cambodia itself had ratified the convention in 1950. These prisoners were interred at Tuol Sleng (Security Prison 21), a secret center operated by the Khmer Rouge in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Though massive atrocities against civilian populations were committed in the years following the Holocaust and throughout the Cold War, the very countries that signed their names to the Genocide Convention scarcely considered whether these crimes constituted genocide.

Photo: US Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Documentation Center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.