Marilena N. Papadaki
The”systematic elimination”of the Christian element as presented in the minutes of the Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on the Enforcement of Penalties (1919).
As in the last years of the First World War, individual responsibility for war crimes, crimes against international law, as well as crimes against humanity constituted a dominant ideology in the Allied states, the Paris Peace Conference established a technical body aiming to investigate the responsibilities of the war and to impose penalties. Before the Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on the Enforcement of Penalties, the Greek representative was called to serve both Greek and Armenian national interests as the two countries have repeatedly denounced “the systematic crime committed against the Greek and Armenian populations as part of an extermination plan of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire”. These denunciations introduce for the first time in the international discourse the concept of organized and premeditate collective crime as well as the demand for prosecution of the responsible of these crimes by international criminal tribunals. The study of the Commission’s proceedings helps to understand the contemporary perception of the mass persecution of the Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire in the years leading up to the First World War. Historically, the discussions within the Commission are of particular importance, taking into account the evolution of international law to the recognition, especially after the Second World War, of the “crimes against humanity” and the crime of “genocide” and their persecution by an international criminal tribunal.