The the most influential and explicit being
Thenotion of human rights is a relatively new concept that has only beenimplemented within the last century. Several factors have influenced itsformation into a modern idea, one of the most influential and explicit beingthe Holocaust during World War II.
The formation of the United Nations in 1945came at a pivotal point in history with the goal of solving internationalconflict and negotiating peace and stability that had not previously beenpresent. The Holocaust during World War II and its flagrant human rightsviolations catalyzed the formation of a necessary international regime aimed atcreating a universal framework of rights and protections that have now evolvedinto what has become the modern idea of human rights.Oneof the most detrimental and atrocious events of World War II that has immenselyimpacted international human rights is the systematic and state-sponsoredexecution of six million individuals. The Holocaust began when the Nazi partyrose into power in Germany around January 1933, when the Jewish population inEurope exceeded nine million. The Nazi party believed that Germans were”racially superior” and that the Jewish people, deemed “inferior,” served as athreat to the German racial community (USHMM). Although the Jewish populationwas the primary subject, German authorities also targeted groups from othercountries, including Polish, Russian, homosexual, and disabled people.
Overthree million prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, ormaltreatment in Nazi concentration camps. Between 1941 and 1944, millions weredeported for forced labor to Nazi-occupied territories, where these individualsworked and were often murdered in gassing facilities. By 1945, the end of WorldWar II, the Nazi party murdered two out of every three European Jews as part ofthe “Final Solution,” the Nazi plan to wipe out the European Jewish population.
Afterthe war, from 1945-1946, some of the Nazis who were responsible for crimescommitted during the Holocaust were brought to court during the NurembergTrials. Judges from the Allied Powers–France, Great Britain, the UnitedStates, and the Soviet Union–officiated the hearings of twenty-two major Nazigenerals. During these trials, former Nazi leaders were indicted and tried aswar criminals by an international military tribunal.
Twelve prominent Nazigenerals were found guilty and sentenced to death at these trials. This set anew precedent in international law, demonstrating that no one, not even anauthoritative general or public official, was immune from punishment for warcrimes. These crimes include “crimes against peace—namely, the planning,initiating, and waging of wars of aggression..
.and crimes against humanity—thatis, extermination, deportations, and genocide…” (Ishay). TheHolocaust in World War II drew attention to the dire need for more rightsprotecting individuals worldwide from the horrors of genocide and prohibitingthe events of the Holocaust from ever repeating. Consequently, following theNuremberg Trials, on December 9th 1948, the UN Convention on the Prevention andPunishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted unanimously as the first humanrights treaty by the UN General Assembly, only one day before the ratificationof the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When the UN General Assembly adopted this convention, it createdinternational norms and standards that still apply to today’s society.
Itstates that “genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to thespirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world;recognizing that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losseson humanity…” (OHCHR). As a result of the Holocaust, this conventioncontinues to impact the world’s view on violence by banning any actsperpetrated with the intent to harm or destroy an ethnic, national or religiousgroup. TheHolocaust still has a profound effect on societyin both Europe and the rest of the world.
On November 1st 2005, the United NationsGeneral Assembly officially voted to designate January 27th as the “InternationalDay of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust” since January27th 1945 was the liberation day of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a former Nazi concentration camp. This day serves a day ofremembrance for all of the lives taken away during the tragic and horrifyingevents of the Holocaust, still currently acknowledged in the modern world. Inconclusion, the longevity of Holocaust’sinfluence on the world can be attributed to the mass murder of millions, whichultimately transformed international human rights by introducing themuch-needed concept of ending and preventing genocide and inhumane acts ofviolence targeted at innocent individuals. The Holocaust caused extreme internationalconflict due to its disturbing events so, as a result, there was a powerfullydemonstrated surge in demand for respect of human rights following World War II.The modern idea of human rights includes a right to life and the Holocauststripped that away from millions of people, causing the United Nations to adoptthe Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide tofurther elaborate on human rights, organize global progress and avoidregression of balance of power worldwide going forward. This convention ismeant to prevent and prohibit abuses like torture and genocide in order toprotect people’s right to life around the world.
Without the Holocaust, this revolutionaryconvention would not be present today.