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The Policy Adopted Towards The Aborigines In Australia In The Nineteenth And Twentieth Centuries Can Only Be Described As 'genocidal', Discuss

3113 words - 13 pages

The policy adopted towards the Aborigines in Australia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can only be described as 'genocidal', DiscussIn the study of Australian history, the policies adopted towards the Aborigines in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is arguably the most controversial area to date. In the current climate of heat in Aboriginal affairs, 'genocide' is a word, which is mostly avoided by historians of both, black and white origin. This can be explained on two fronts. First of all, the definition of genocide is open to debate. Historians are divided over the current international legal definition offered by the United Nations. Secondly, the traditional views of ...view middle of the document...

The definition offered by the United Nations has caused widespread debate between Historians. Through the work of Helen Fein we can summarize two problems repeatedly noted by critics of the convention. The first is the gap in groups covered. The convention has been repeatedly criticized for the omission of political groups and social classes as target groups. Fein points out that critics such as Drost believed that everyone belonged to a group either by birth or from choice. The convention left a wide loophole open for any government to escape the human duties under the convention by putting genocide into practice under the cover of executive measures against political or other groups for reasons of security. The second problem outlined by Fein was the ambiguity of intent to destroy. According to the United Nations definition if there is no 'intent to destroy' then there can be no case for genocide. Fein states that critics such as Barta believe genocide should not only be defined as an action designed to kill off a group, but also regardless of intention, actions that have the effect of killing off a group. Barta argued that if we only place emphasis on intensions to kill we devalue all other concepts of less planned destruction, even if the effects are the same .Despite the critical analysis by some historians of the United Nations definition and also the proposal of new improved variations of the term 'genocide' which could include wider ranging target groups and also take the emphasis away from intent and also include unintentional causes, The United Nations model should be adhered to. In the case of Drost's criticisms, there are wide ranging problems in selecting criteria for determining what constitutes as a political group. Furthermore the right for a state to protect itself could be weakened by inclusion of political groups. In reply to Barta's criticism of 'intent', the definition of genocide would become extremely wide-ranging if many of the unintentional aspects were included. Its for these reasons that we should stick with the United Nations model in the case of the policies adopted towards the Aborigines in Australia in the nineteenth and twentieth century's. Furthermore I feel that if we are to attempt to define a certain area of history with a legal term such as genocide, then we should stick to the current legal criteria.In the case of Australia, historians are in agreement over one major aspect; the landing of the first fleet on Botany Bay on 26th January 1788 and the creation of Britain's new convict colony was the beginning of the decline in the aboriginal population . It is argued that their could have been up one million aborigines living throughout Australia on the arrival of the British fleet, though around two hundred thousand is the more widely accepted number . Nevertheless this figure was to be extremely decimated and in the extreme case of Tasmania, a whole race of aborigines was wiped out . The main threats to...

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