Criminal Law Forum

, Volume 26, Issue 3–4, pp 533–563 | Cite as

Classifying Cultural and Physical Destruction: Are Modern Historical and Current Human Rights Violations in China Violations of International Criminal Law?

  • Melanie O’BrienEmail author


Modern (Communist) China has a chequered history with regard to the commission of and accountability for mass violence and human rights violations. Campaigns by the Communist Party have resulted in horrific mass crimes such as killings, starvation, torture, beatings, and persecution. While such conduct undoubtedly amount to violations of human rights, there are many examples from China’s recent past and in China today where situations of mass human rights violations, as well as mass atrocities, could also constitute violations of international criminal law (war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide). This paper will assess three examples in modern China’s history and present to determine whether they amount to international crimes: the Cultural Revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, and human trafficking (including the consequential crimes of forced marriage and forced prostitution); and offer a brief overview of what accountability steps China should take with regard to these crimes.


International Criminal Cultural Revolution Rome Statute International Crime Forced Marriage 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TC Beirne School of LawUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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