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Timeline of Events

UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide

January 12, 1951

The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide enters into force.

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish jurist, was born in 1900 on a small farm near the Polish town of Wolkowysk. Lemkin was determined to see “genocide” added to international law and began lobbying for this at early sessions of the United Nations. He was a critical force for bringing genocide before the nascent United Nations, where delegates from around the world debated the terms of an international law regarding the subject. On December 9, 1948, the final text was adopted unanimously. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide entered into force on January 12, 1951, after more than 20 countries from around the world ratified it.