How China can be held accountable

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Source: The post is based on an article “How China can be held accountable” published in The Indian Express on 23rd September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – India and its neighborhood


There are around 10 million people forced into mass forced labour and living in internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

This has led to the human rights issue concerning international importance.

However, there are multiple arguments that have been presented by different parties in the Uyghur’s case.

What is the Uyghur issue?

Chinese government is carrying persecution of Uyghurs in the guise of counter-terrorism and counter-extremism strategies in the Xinjiang region, as per many reports.

There have been credible indications of violations of reproductive rights through the coercive enforcement of family planning policies since 2017.

Why is it difficult to prove the persecution of Uyghurs as a genocide?

Bosnian Genocide case: It is very difficult to prove this allegation as seen from the verdict of International Court of Justice in the Bosnian Genocide case.

Definition of Human Rights Violation: Human rights defenders have argued that detention of an entire ethnic minority in camp-like and slave labour conditions cannot be called a violation of human rights.

Lack of data: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) also accepted the discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur as crimes against humanity. However, she admitted that “a lack of government data” disabled the OHCHR from concluding violations of reproductive rights. Therefore, she has recommended in her report that the Chinese government should take proper steps to release all those detained in training centres, prisons or detention facilities.

PRC is not a member of the 2002 International Criminal Court treaty (the Rome Treaty).  ICC’s jurisdiction over crimes against humanity requires a “nexus to armed conflict”. The crimes during peacetime do not come under its jurisdiction.

What international law actions are possible against China?

The 2019 ICC pre-trial chamber in the Myanmar-Bangladesh case concerning the Rohingyas gives some hope for the Uyghur’s issue. In the case the ICC has said that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over crime when part of the criminal conduct takes place on the territory of a State Party.

Rodney Dixon who presented the Uyghur matter to the ICC has argued that evidence shows that Chinese officials are coming onto Tajikistan territory (ICC party) and targeting, arresting and deporting Uyghurs back into China.

Therefore, those officials should be investigated by ICC and further investigation should be made with the officials of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan regarding Uyghurs.

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