Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage ST. THOMAS MORE COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

A Conceptual Limbo of Genocide

Oksana Dudko, a Petro Jacyk Postdoctoral Fellow in Ukrainian Studies, published an article “A conceptual limbo of genocide: Russian rhetoric, mass atrocities in Ukraine, and the current definition’s limits” about Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine and the challenges of classifying them as a genocide in the journal Canadian Slavonic Papers. The article was written when the international community learned about the massacre committed by Russian troops in Bucha, and it was published on the day that a mass burial site with more than 400 bodies was discovered in the town of Izium, in the recently liberated Kharkiv region. As new atrocities come to light, it becomes increasingly clear that there is a need to prioritize the development of new conceptual and legal vocabularies that can help to name the ongoing violence and hold the perpetrators accountable. As Dudko points out, “For Lemkin, genocide was a specific form of imperial conquest and occupation. By methodically putting Lemkin’s theoretical observations into practice, Putin has proven to be one of his best students. As the war continues, my only hope is that the international community is able to rethink the concept of genocide so that it can effectively limit rather than fuel human suffering and civilian destruction.”

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