Lord Alton’s Genocide Determination Bill – Call It Genocide

On 15 April 2024, some of the world’s leading international lawyers and cross-party UK parliamentarians sent a public letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary David Cameron, urging them to support the Genocide Determination Bill that is currently under discussion in the House of Lords. 

The Genocide Determination Bill is a private members’ bill introduced in the House of Lords by our patron Lord Alton of Liverpool. The bill was first introduced in 2015. The Genocide Amendment to the Trade Bill in 2020/21 was based on the previous drafts of the Genocide Determination Bill.

The letter can be found here:

A briefing on the bill can be found here:

Coalition for Genocide Response Contributes To The Universal Periodic Review Submissions

On 8 April 2024, the Coalition for Genocide Response joined the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute in submissions to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Ethiopia, North Korea, and the DRC.

The UPR is a unique mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council that calls for each UN Member State to undergo a peer review of its human rights records every 4-5 years. The UPR provides each State the opportunity to regularly:

  • report on the actions it has taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights; and
  • receive recommendations – informed by multi-stakeholder input and pre-session reports – from UN Member States for continuous improvement.

Civil society organisations with ECOSOC accreditations can make submissions to the UPR – and so raise human rights concerns and make recommendations.

The submissions on Ethiopia and North Korea engaged on the issue of genocide. The submission on the DRC comments on the issue of conflict-related sexual violence and impunity.

The submissions can now be found below.

Genocide Against The Tutsi In Rwanda -30 Years Later

April 7 marks the U.N. International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It was established to remember members of the Tutsi community, an African ethnic group, who were killed or injured in the atrocities. In 1994, as many as one million people – overwhelmingly Tutsi, but also Hutu and others who opposed the genocide – were systematically killed in 100 days of the atrocities, and thousands more were injured. Among those, it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were subjected to systematic rape and sexual violence. These statistics send a strong message. The speed of the killings confirms that the atrocities were planned. The implication is that the destruction of the Tutsi people, an ethnic minority group, was the intention. 2024 also marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Read more from our co-founder, Dr Ewelina Ochab, here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2024/04/01/genocide-against-the-tutsi-in-rwanda30-years-later

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2024/04/01/genocide-against-the-tutsi-in-rwanda30-years-later/: Genocide Against The Tutsi In Rwanda -30 Years Later

Second Reading of Baroness Kennedy’s Genocide (Prevention and Response) Bill – 22 March 2024

On 22 March 2024, Baroness Kennedy’s Genocide (Prevention and Response) Bill will have its second reading at the House of Lords. The Genocide (Prevention and Response) Bill, which is a private member’s bill supported by the Coalition for Genocide Response, is to make provisions about how the government monitors and reports on activities to prevent and respond to genocide and other atrocity crimes.

The Bill can be accessed here: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3521.

A briefing from the House of Lords library can be found here:

(Source: https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/lln-2024-0015/#:~:text=The%20Genocide%20(Prevention%20and%20Response,genocide%20and%20other%20atrocity%20crimes.)

Universal Periodic Review of China

In January 2024, China is being reviewed by the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR). UPR is a process under which all UN member states undergo a review of their human rights compliance. China is now undergoing its fourth review.

The UPR can be watched here: https://webtv.un.org/en/asset/k1z/k1z43db5bt

The Coalition for Genocide Response, together with the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) made a submission to the UPR, identifying some of the concerns and making recommendations to China.

75 Years of the Genocide Convention and the Promise of Never Again

9 December marks the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime. In 2023, it is also the 75th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention).

The Genocide Convention defines, in Article II, genocide as ‘any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group’, including:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Genocide Convention confirms that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or war, is a crime under international law which parties to the convention undertake ‘to prevent and to punish.’

Read more from the co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, Dr Ewelina Ochab, writing for Forbes:

The Genocide Convention And The Failed Promise Of Never Again

The last 75 years have seen too many cases of genocide. In the last decade, there have been several genocides or situations at serious risk of genocide that require attention here – genocides that we all have lived through, even if far from our homes.

In 2014, Daesh attacked Sinjar in Iraq and unleashed genocide against the Yazidi numeric minority community. Daesh perpetrated a litany of atrocities, including murder, enslavement, deportation and forcible transfer of populations, imprisonment, torture, abduction of women and children, exploitation, abuse, rape, and sexual violence. Daesh fighters killed hundreds if not thousands of people. As part of the same campaign, Daesh fighters abducted boys to turn them into child soldiers and women and girls for sex slavery. Subsequently, Daesh attacked Nineveh Plains forcing over 120,000 Christians to flee for their lives. More than 2,700 Yazidi women and children are still missing and their fate is unknown – as such, this genocide is considered as ongoing.

In 2016/2017, Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, unleashed atrocities against the Rohingya, an ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar, including extrajudicial executions or other killings, including by random shooting, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention, rape, including gang rape, and other forms of sexual violence; physical assault including beatings; torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; looting and occupation of property, destruction of property, and ethnic and religious discrimination and persecution. As a result of the atrocities, close to a million Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee to Bangladesh.

In 2018, we started hearing about the targeting of the Uyghurs, an ethno-religious community in China. According to reports, over a million members of the community were placed in so-called “re-education camps” where they would be subjected to forced indoctrination, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and sexual violence, and much more. Uyghur women were subjected to forced sterilizations and abortions. Uyghur children were removed from their parents and placed with Han families.

The targeting of the Yazidis, the Rohingya, and the Uyghurs has received some international attention and the atrocities have been formally determined to constitute genocide by governments, parliaments, international bodies, and experts, although the level of recognition varies between the cases. The U.S. State Department formally recognized all three.

However, recent years have also seen several situations with exhibit a serious risk of genocide, and situations where some of the elements of the crime are already present, although have not been formally recognized as yet. Among them are the situations of the Tigrayans in Ethiopia, the Hazara in Afghanistan, Ukrainians as targeted by Russia, and Darfurians in Sudan.

In 2020, with the outbreak of the war in Ethiopia, news reported on the targeting of Tigrayans with mass killings and brutal cases of rape and sexual violence. As the ceasefire was being signed in November 2022, the legacy of the war includes an estimated 600,000 – 800,000 people killed (making it the deadliest war in recent years), over 120,000 people subjected to conflict-related sexual violence, over a million people internally displaced within Tigray and over 60,000 fleeing to Sudan, thousands of people dead due to starvation. Despite the ceasefire in November 2022, the situation of the communities is still dire.

In 2021, as the Taliban was taking over, the Hazara, an ethnic but also a religious numeric minority group, became a target yet again. Hazara places of worship, schools and hospitals came under attack with countless causalities. There are continuous and increasing threats against the Hazara that include targeted kidnapping and arrest of Hazara leaders, scholars, and military members and their family members across Afghanistan. The Hazara Inquiry, a U.K. Parliamentary inquiry, found that Hazara in Afghanistan, as a religious and ethnic minority, are at serious risk of genocide at the hands of the Taliban and Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-K).

In 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine and unleashed a litany of crimes including atrocities aiming at the destruction of the Ukrainian identity. Among such crimes are the abductions of children, and forced transfer to Russia to subject them to illegal adoptions by Russian families. According to the testimonies of rescued children, once removed from their families or guardians, they were prohibited from speaking Ukrainian, and forced to learn and speak Russian. In 2023, the practice of removing Ukrainian children received some focus from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Indeed, in March 2023, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC issued warrants of arrest for two individuals in the context of the situation in Ukraine: Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Ms Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova and this for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation (under articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute). However, as for now, the ICC does not consider the crime as part of the genocide against Ukrainians.

In 2023, Darfur was issued a warning of the risk of imminent genocidal mass killing as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the paramilitary group in conflict with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), was on the verge of taking over the entire Darfur region after capturing four of its five states. The warning issued by over 70 international law experts stated that the evidence of persecution and killings based on ethnicity is well-established. As they indicated, “In recent weeks, the RSF has become increasingly brazen in its attacks and brutality against civilians, particularly targeting the Masalit ethnic group directly. Earlier this month, in just six days, RSF forces terrorized an IDP camp in Ardamata, a site thought to be a place of refuge from prior attacks, massacring hundreds and enslaving members of the Masalit. This follows the RSF unleashing the same horrors on El Geneina earlier this year, leaving hastily dug mass graves for members of the Masalit community. According to survivors of these massacres, the RSF and its militiamen singled out Masalit for execution and further hunted down prominent leaders of the community.”

These are the cases from the last ten years where the elements of the crime of genocide are established or, at minimum, there is a serious risk of genocide. These findings should engage the responsibility of all States to protect the targeted communities and prevent genocide, under the Genocide Convention and customary international law. Unfortunately, the responses to these situations have been neglectful, and unworthy of the promise of “Never Again” repeated by leaders again and again.

New Report: The Three Horsemen of the War in Tigray – Mass Killings, Sexual Violence and Starvation

On 29 September 2023, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Law, Justice and Accountability published a report, produced by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, as part of the Tigray Inquiry, an inquiry into the situation in Tigray since November 2020. The Inquiry, chaired by Brendan O’Hara MP, and supported by Baroness Kennedy KC and Lord Alton of Liverpool, received an unprecedented amount of data, including testimonies from victims and witnesses from Tigray.
The Tigray Inquiry found that Tigrayans have been subjected to horrific atrocities during the war in the region between November 2020 and November 2022. Many of these atrocities are continuing to this day. Among the submissions received by the Inquiry, mass killings, sexual violence, and starvation were the most commonly identified crimes. The atrocities have not received enough international focus despite the war being one of the deadliest in recent years and the atrocities meeting the legal definition of international crimes

The Tigray War in Numbers

600,000 – 800,000 people killed 

Over 120,000 people subjected to conflict-related sexual violence

Over a million people internally displaced within Tigray

Over 60,000 Tigrayans fled Ethiopia to Sudan 

About 2.3 million children remain out of school in northern Ethiopia 

Thousands of people died due to starvation

Despite the ceasefire in November 2022, the situation of the communities is still dire. The ceasefire may have stopped the guns, but atrocities continue to be committed, including rape and sexual violence. The communities continue to face a humanitarian crisis which claims lives to this day. The destruction brought about by the war means that the communities will continue to feel the effects of the war for months and years to come. 

The situation in Tigray requires urgent international attention. So far this has not been forthcoming despite the horrific reports of atrocity crimes in the region. The only remaining international body with the mandate to examine the situation, the International Commission of Experts on Ethiopia, will cease to exist over the next weeks, as its mandate is unlikely to be renewed.

Commenting on the Tigray Inquiry, Brendan O’Hara MP said: ‘The evidence received by the Tigray Inquiry sent a strong message that the atrocities are not over. We must act now – act to stop further atrocities but also to ensure that past atrocities are dealt with by competent courts.’

Lord Alton of Liverpool, the patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, added: ‘As the 54th session of the Human Rights Council is to conclude soon, States have a week to ensure that a resolution renewing the mandate of the International Commission of Experts on Ethiopia is renewed and so allowed to continue its important monitoring, collection and preservation of evidence and analysis of the situation. It is very clear that the Government of Ethiopia is not equipped to do this.’

Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, the patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, stressed the importance of justice and accountability to address the situation in Ethiopia: ‘Justice and accountability for the Tigray War are crucial for victims and survivors of the atrocities. However, it does not end there. Addressing past atrocities means also addressing a risk factor of future atrocities – as impunity always begets further crimes. Securing justice and accountability for Tigray and the whole of Ethiopia requires assistance from the international community.’The Tigray Inquiry report will be sent to all Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva with a call to renew the International Commission of Experts on Ethiopia over the next week.


Any questions about the report can be sent to: Dr Ewelina Ochab [email protected].