What is it about?

The concept of cultural genocide has been abrogated from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). Nevertheless, it remained a relevant concept of genocide beyond the legal sphere. The article claims that cultural genocide should be brought back into the discourse on genocide, in the legal sphere and beyond it. It uses the cultural genocide of the Uyghur minority in China to support this claim. It elaborates on the concept of cultural genocide, its development, and its exclusion from the Genocide Convention. It uses the Uyghurs’ case study to exemplify how the prohibition on cultural genocide against ethnic groups can become a soft law norm through states’ practice and legal instruments that support the concept of cultural genocide. The article concludes with the legal and political merits of the prohibition on cultural genocide as a soft law norm. It focuses on how this process can promote the fight against genocide—particularly in the case of powerful states in the international arena, such as China.

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Why is it important?

The Uyghurs cultural genocide portrays the inability of the international community to prevent from super powers such as China to commit atrocities. Yet, the article suggests that it is possible to widen the perspective of the international community beyond the law and the UN framework to raise awareness to the atrocities against the Uyghurs and against cultural genocide in general and encourage future material action to prevent it.


As a legal scholar, I am aware of the limitations of law to fully repress international crimes and claim states' responsibility for them. I wrote to the article looking for ways to supersede this limitation and find more ways in which the international community could address cultural genocide and aim to prevent it.

Dr. Hilly Moodrick-Even Khen
Ariel University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Uyghurs, International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, September 2022, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/15718115-bja10090.
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