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Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

February 19, 1970

To the Senate of the United States:

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was transmitted to the Senate by President Truman on June 16, 1949, with a view to receiving advice and consent to ratification. Although hearings were held in 1950 by a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Senate itself has not acted on the Convention. Now, twenty years later, I urge the Senate to consider anew this important Convention and to grant its advice and consent to ratification.

In the aftermath of World War II, United States representatives played a leading role in the negotiation of this Convention. It was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1948, and signed on behalf of the United States two days later. The Convention entered into force on January 12, 1951, and seventy-four countries from all parts of the world and of every political persuasion have so far become parties.

The provisions of the Convention are explained in the enclosed report from the Secretary of State. The Attorney General concurs in the Secretary of State's judgment that there are no constitutional obstacles to United States ratification. I endorse the Secretary of State's considered judgment that ratification at this time, with the recommended understanding, would be in the national interest of the United States. Although the Convention will require implementing legislation, I am not at this time proposing any specific legislation. The Executive Branch will be prepared, however, to discuss this matter during the Senate's consideration of the Convention.

In asking for Senate approval of the Convention twenty years ago, President Truman said:

"By the leading part the United States has taken in the United Nations in producing an effective international legal instrument outlawing the world-shocking crime of genocide, we have established before the world our firm and clear policy toward that crime."

Since then, I regret to say, some of our detractors have sought to exploit our failure to ratify this Convention to question our sincerity. I believe we should delay no longer in taking the final convincing step which would reaffirm that the United States remains as strongly opposed to the crime of genocide as ever.

By giving its advice and consent to ratification of this Convention, the Senate of the United States will demonstrate unequivocally our country's desire to participate in the building of international order based on law and justice.


Report of the Secretary of State


The White House

February 19, 1970

Note: The Secretary of State's report and a White House announcement concerning the President's message are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 6, pp. 244 and 245 ).

Also released on the same day was the transcript of a news briefing on the convention by Warren E. Hewitt, Chief of the Human Rights Division of the Office of International Economic and Social Affairs, Department of State, and Ronald L. Ziegler, Press Secretary to the President.

The text of the convention is printed in Senate Executive B (91st Cong., 2d sess.).

Richard Nixon, Message to the Senate Transmitting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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