In the face of what is likely today’s most heinous atrocity — and the demonstrated ineptitude of international courts to take on the case — the Uyghur Tribunal’s coming verdict will be a litmus test of the human rights legal establishment, now and in the China-ascendant future.
Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress, an international organization representing Uyghur interests abroad, the Uyghur Tribunal was launched in 2020 by Sir Geoffrey Nice, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal that tried Slobodan Milošević’s war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.
To be clear, both Beijing and the Tribunal have proposed answers, at least implicitly, to the question of whether international law matters without viable courts.
The Uyghur Tribunal is betting that the transparent use of the law by respected experts on China’s alleged genocide will carry weight around the world.
While the Uyghur Tribunal is not the first “court” of its kind, it likely will prove to be one of the most significant.
As such, the Uyghur Tribunal is the first high-profile tribunal to receive significant international attention for its overt challenge to China’s routing of institutions on the global stage.
The world should take the Uyghur Tribunal’s lessons to heart — or risk the total submission of international institutions to autocratic powers. »