26 February 2021, 16:30 - 17:30
Online event
Open to the public
This event is free - register below to attend

How can international human rights obligations be enforced against all-powerful permanent members of the UN Security Council? What role can civil society play in upholding states' human rights obligations?

This panel discussion on China’s alleged commission of international crimes in the Xinjiang detention camps examines the characterisation of the alleged crimes and mechanisms available under international law for ensuring international protection and scrutiny. In addition, the panel looks at the UK domestic response to the allegations to date, including a UK Parliamentary Inquiry on the Xinjiang detention camps launched in September 2020, and potential contributions of civil society in responding to the alleged crimes – in particular, the civil-society-led ‘Independent People’s Tribunal’ that has been set up to investigate ongoing atrocities and possible genocide against the Uyghur people.

Alongside the overview of available and potential mechanisms, the panellists examine the challenges to international oversight and scrutiny, as well as the ways of overcoming such challenges and possible limitations. The discussion is situated in the broader frame of the UK government’s atrocity prevention strategy, including ongoing debates on a Parliament-supported ‘genocide determination’ bill that would affect a bilateral trade deal with China.

This event is co-hosted by the Oxford Programme on International Peace and Security, the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and the Oxford Transitional Justice Research group.

Please note: This event will be held online via Zoom. Register below to receive joining instructions.

About the speakers

Federica D’Alessandra is Executive Director of the Oxford Programme on International Peace and Security, Blavatnik School of Government, where she leads research on atrocity prevention, international justice and the protection of civilians from physical threats of violence. She teaches international human rights law and international criminal law on the School’s Master of Public Policy, and sits on the Steering Committees for the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and the Alfred Landecker Programme. Federica is also affiliated with the Oxford Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Oxford Network of Peace Studies, alongside sitting on the board of a number of external institutes, including the Councils of the International Bar Association (IBA) Human Rights Institute and Section of Public and Professional Interest, where she also chaired the Human Rights Law and War Crimes Committee. In this latter capacity, she acted as Counsel in the IBA Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons. Prior to joining Oxford, Federica held various appointments at Harvard University, including at the Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government, and at the Harvard Law School.

  • Read the written evidence submitted by Federica D'Alessandra and Kirsty Sutherland to the UK Parliamentary Inquiry on Xinjiang detention camps.

Stephen J Rapp is a Distinguished Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Prevention of Genocide, and a Senior Fellow of Practice at the Oxford Programme on International Peace and Security. He serves as Chair of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability and on the boards of Physicians for Human Rights, the IBA Human Rights Institute, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, and the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights. From 2009 to 2015, he was Ambassador-at-Large heading the Office of Global Criminal Justice in the US State Department. In that position he coordinated US Government support to international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, as well as to hybrid and national courts responsible for prosecuting persons charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Stephen was the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2009 where he led the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. From 2001 to 2007, he served as Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where he headed the trial team that achieved the first convictions in history of leaders of the mass media for the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

  • View the oral evidence submitted by Stephen Rapp to the UK Parliamentry Inquiry on Xinjiang detention camps.

Kirsty Sutherland is a Visiting Fellow of Practice with the Oxford Programme on International Peace and Security. She is a barrister at 9 Bedford Row, specialising in international criminal law and military law. In her law practice, she has acted in a number of high-profile UK military trials, as well as in a number of cases before international criminal tribunals. She is currently Associate Counsel in the case of The Prosecutor v. Al Hassan, a Malian national who allegedly joined the Ansar Dine militia in early 2012, and became an interpreter and administrator of the Islamic Police in Timbuktu. Mr Al Hassan stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Her previous cases include the ICC case of The Prosecutor v. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Case 004 before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. In the latter, Mr Yim Tith, a former Khmer Rouge official, stands accused of genocide of the Khmer Krom, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and violations of the 1956 Cambodia Penal Code. In 2016, Kirsty acted as Counsel in the IBA Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons. She is a Blavatnik School alumna from the MPP class of 2019.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC is Chair of the UK Tribunal to Investigate China’s Alleged Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity Against Uyghur and Other Muslim Populations. Sir Geoffrey has been a barrister since 1971 and served as a part-time judge in England between 1984 and 2018. Between 1998 and 2006 he led the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia, at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He was Gresham College Professor of law from 2012 to 16 and was Chair of the China Tribunal.



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