The month of April is designated, around the world, as the Month of Remembrance, Condemnation and Prevention of Genocide. Clearly, we have failed in our collective mission by sticking to an inadequate legal definition.

A year ago, on April 27, 2022, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion recognizing the Russian Federation’s acts of genocide against the Ukrainian people, after the Parliament of Ukraine proposed a resolution “on the commission of genocide in Ukraine by the Russian Federation”.

Last March, the International Criminal Court issued two arrest warrants for war criminals: Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova.

Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, known as the Genocide Convention, defines it as “an act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national group , ethnic, racial or religious”, which includes killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to them, subjecting them to conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group, measures intended to hinder births, forced transfer of children.

However, these acts have a larger purpose than mere physical destruction. In Ukraine, the violence of Russian forces is not a means, but an end in itself: the series of war crimes is part of a project of destruction threatening the existence of the Ukrainian nation.

Unlike a national, ethnic or racial group destroyed by genocide, the nation has a broader definition. Each of its groups, both individually and collectively, can form one. In the century of multicultural and multiethnic states, it is central to consider this civic framing of what a nation is.

A civic nation refers to a society where individuals voluntarily adhere to the concept of community on a daily basis. It is then determined by small actions undertaken by the members of this community, beyond their skin color, the language they speak or the religion they practice. Ukraine, multilingual and multi-confessional, is a perfect example: the population, whether ethnic Russian, Jewish, Romanian-speaking, or Crimean Tatar, feels first and foremost Ukrainian.

Admittedly, since the invasion of February 24, 2022, many Ukrainians have tended to renounce the Russian language out of conviction, because it is associated with the idea of ​​the empire, but the fact remains that it can be freely spoken in the four corners of the country.

The modern Ukrainian nation was also built on a deep desire to join the European Union. By adhering to the values ​​of democracy and freedom promoted by the 27, Ukrainians are building their future and contributing to strengthening the European integration project.

An article in Russian state media RIA Novosti titled “What Russia Should Do With Ukraine” echoes official statements, wishing for the “liquidation and ideological re-education” of Ukrainians, thus an “inevitable de-Ukrainization”. .

Russian statesman Dmitry Medvedev’s last tweet claimed that Ukraine “is going to disappear, because no one on this planet needs it”.

Although they do not call for the direct physical destruction of Ukrainians, as understood by the UN definition of genocide, these statements seek the disintegration of their political and national identity, and therefore the destruction of the Ukrainian nation as it is being built.

I therefore propose to add the term natiocide to the dictionary, a neologism that can be defined simply as the destruction of a nation. The advantages of this name are numerous.

We will first recognize the existence of political communities that go beyond ethnic particularities. We will also update international law, often perceived as outdated, and thus contribute to the condemnation of Russian officials for their crimes in Ukraine.

We will finally pledge to prevent such atrocious crimes in the future by protecting nations as unique members of the international community, it is our duty.