An Investigation of Intent and Genocide in the 1930s Kazakh Famine

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Maya Mehra


In the 1930s, Kazakhstan, then a republic of the Soviet Union, experienced a devastating famine, resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million people. It is widely accepted that this famine occurred due to the Soviet Union's forced collectivization and sedentarization campaigns. This article summarizes the famine's causes and consequences to use the existing legal definition of intent to critically evaluate Stalin's mindset at the time of the famine. This summary is used to conclude that the famine was likely an intentional act of violence. Further, with this establishment of intent in mind, this article uses the United Nations' definition of genocide to consider whether the horrors endured by and inflicted upon the Kazakh people constitute a genocide. Using the same framework as the legal evaluation of intent, the article concludes that the Great Famine in Kazakhstan cannot be legally classified as a genocide.

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Business, Law and Politics