The debate is finally over. Is ISIS committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East? The U.S. Secretary of State says yes.
Kerry's announcement follows similar declarations already made by the European Union and the U.S. Congress. It is significant because the designation puts pressure on the United States to take action.
Genocide is defined as "an act committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."
The United Nation's 1948 Convention on Genocide states that genocide is a crime under international law which signatories undertake "to prevent and punish." It does not require nations to take action, it only states that the following acts SHALL be punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide
(e) Complicity in genocide
So, what now?
The leaders of ISIS and their jihadists traveling back to Europe, or any country may be apprehended, charged before an international tribunal and if found guilty, they "shall" be punished.
And is it really genocide that is happening against the Christians, or ethnic cleansing?
Does it really matter what we call it? The bottom line is ancient religious communities and their cultures are being exterminated in the Middle East. They are in urgent need of our protection.
What does the designation mean and what now? Watch as it is explained in one minute:
Former GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson and others have suggested safe zones be established in Syria and Iraq to protect Christians and Yazidis from the Islamic State and other militant groups.
Kerry's genocide designation may now force the U.S. and other nations to do something.
It is a positive development. Unfortunately, it took months for U.S. government leaders to arrive at this conclusion. How many more Yazidis and Christians died as they awaited this genocide designation?
And how many more will die as they await the genocide designation to become more than just words on paper?