Tibet Justice Center

Last updated
Tibet Justice Center
Founded1989 (1989)
Founder Eva Herzer
Type Non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable corporation
Focus Human rights activism
  • Oakland, California
Website www.tibetjustice.org

Tibet Justice Center, (TJC, formerly International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, ICLT) is an American legal association founded in 1989 that advocates human rights and self-determination for the Tibetan people.



The association is a non-governmental organization in Oakland, California, United States, defending human rights and self-determination for the people of Tibet. [1] [2] [3] Through legal and educational activities ICLT promotes human rights, environmental protection, and peaceful resolution of the situation in Tibet. [1]

Founded in the U.S. in 1989 as the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, it is historically the first and only association legal to support the cause of Tibet. [4] The creation of the association was suggested by Michael van Walt van Praag, legal advisor to the 14th Dalai Lama, and John Ackerley, an attorney member of International Campaign for Tibet. Through meetings in Northern California held in the four main schools of law and two general conferences, fifteen lawyers and law students and a dozen of other interested people joined the new association. [5]


In 1999, the association had 1,200 members, of whom one-third are lawyers.

In 2000, Robert D. Sloane, a professor at the Boston University School of Law, joined the association and became chairman of the board.


Release of Gendun Rinchen

Working with Amnesty International, the TJC was able to obtain the release of Gendun Rinchen, a Tibetan guide in Lhasa jailed in 1993 for passing reports on the violation of human rights in Tibet. [6] In March 1996, he participated with Jerry Brown, Harry Wu and Orville Schell to an event in San Francisco in favor of TJC. [7]

Participation in the World UN Conference on Women in Beijing

A delegation of six members of the TJC, Chimi Thonden, Yoden Thonden, Tenki Tendufla, Lisa Tracy and Eva Herzer, participated in the NGO Forum at the World Conference on Women in Beijing UN in 1995. [8] However, a 2015 documentary "Makers" does show that the organization's visa application was denied by the Chinese Government. [9]

Participation in the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul UN

The TJC participated in the Conference Habitat II (en) of the United Nations Programme for Human Settlements in Istanbul, Turkey on 5 June 1996, Eva Herzer, then President of TJC, gave a lecture entitled The destruction of Holy Lhasa: A case study. [10] On 10 June, the association organized a workshop on Housing Rights Violations in Tibet: a case study of the application of international law. [11]

Campaign of Resolutions by cities and states in the U.S.

In 1999, TJC conducted a campaign to adopt resolutions by cities and states across the United States asking the Government of China to respect the human rights of Tibetans and to negotiate an acceptable solution to the issue of Tibet with Tibetan representatives, based on the will of the Tibetan people. [12]

Report on the torture of children in Tibet

In November 1999, the TJC sent three lawyers and two psychologists interviewed 57 children in a Tibetan refugee camp in India. In June 2000, the Association published a report stating that Tibetan children older than six years are detained and tortured for political and religious offenses in China. According to refugee children in India interviewed beatings and electric shocks administered to children imprisoned for offenses ranging from writing the word independence in a school for the use of photos of the Dalai Lama's book. [3] [13]

Analysis of association of political autonomy

According to Mayank Chhaya, if the concept of self-governance by the autonomy has been studied for some time, it was not until about the 2000s that lawyers have seriously examined the different models that could be applied to Tibet. Eva Herzer, the founder of TJC, worked with the Tibetans in exile to consider a model of self-governance. [14] Dagmar Bernstorff and Hubertus von Welck note that publication on the subject by TJC prompt a conference that brought together experts in international law, ministers, parliamentarians and Tibetan leaders in November 1999 in New Delhi evaluating opportunities agreement between Tibet and China. [15]

According to Michael C. Davis, Professor of Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the analysis by the association of indexes among 34 cases of territorial autonomy in the world reveals that Chinese policy of autonomy in Tibet is only nominal. A severe deficiency of real autonomy appears in the system established by the Chinese government. The TJC report highlights areas of autonomy in the world: cultural affairs, education, health and social services, taxes, economy, natural resources, environmental policies, posts and telecommunications, transport and the judicial police. These areas are covered by local autonomies in Chinese politics at Hong Kong, Macao, and that promised to Taiwan. In all these areas, the Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region is subordinate to the central government. [16] For J. M. Mukhi, lawyer at the Supreme Court of India, the study of Eva Ezer, encyclopedic in scope, shows that there is little hope that Tibetans can benefit from self-governance without democratic change China. [17]

Reports on situation for Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal

TJC has undertaken in-depth on-the-ground research into the situation for Tibetan refugees living in India and Nepal, looking at what their status is under national law, what rights they are allowed in practice, and the effects this has on their lives and livelihoods. "Tibet's Stateless Nationals: Tibetan Refugees in Nepal" was published in 2002. "Tibet's Stateless Nationals II: Tibetan Refugees in India" was published in 2010. And "Tibet's Stateless Nationals III: Tibetan Refugees in India Update" was published in 2016.

Unrepresented Diplomats Project

TJC worked with Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) and Prof. Fiona McConnell of the University of Oxford on an 18-month project looking at the challenges faced when activists and advocates from unrepresented nations and peoples conduct UN advocacy. In 2015-17 we worked with 77 participants across three skills-sharing workshops (in Brussels, Geneva and Oxford), and a Training of Trainers (Geneva), and produced a survey of 65 activists worldwide, an 80-page DIY training manual on how to conduct successful UN advocacy, and a report based on the survey and 20 in-depth interviews called "Compromised Space: Bullying and Blocking at the UN Human Rights Mechanisms", published in 2018.

Reports to the UN

In 1995, the association has submitted a report to the UN on women's rights. [18] In this report, the association said that Tibetan women are often forced to undergo abortions and sterilization operations. These women are also constrained by threats by the People's Republic of China to arrest and imprison their husbands if they do not submit to abortion and sterilization. [19]

In 1999, the association has conducted a survey on children's right and produced a report to the UN. [20]

In 2013, the association submitted a document for the pre-session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's review of China.

Tibet Advocacy Coalition

In 2013, TJC worked with the International Tibet Network to establish the Tibet Advocacy Coalition, along with third founding member Students for a Free Tibet. In 2017, Tibetan Youth Association Europe, and Tibet Initiatives Deutschland joined as core groups. Over the past 6 years we have established a successful model to enable Tibet groups to build more coordinated, strategic advocacy at UN level. We have worked with Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, International Campaign for Tibet, Tibet Watch, Free Tibet, World Uyghur Congress, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, Initiatives for China, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, FIDH, and International Service for Human rights during the mentioned projects. The Coalition has a monitoring tool for progress in Tibet called the Human Rights Action Plan - Tibet, which collects together in one place all UN resolutions, recommendations, observations and action on Tibet on key human rights issues.

Tibet Advocacy Coalition successes:


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  1. 1 2 INCORE guide to Internet sources on conflict in China-Tibet, International Conflict Research Institute
  2. Professor Robert D. Sloane Receives High Level Diploma from Hague Academy of International Law Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine , Boston University School of Law
  3. 1 2 Kathy Pinckert, Whoopi Goldberg Will MC and Sing At June 27 Dinner Benefit The Dalai Lama Will be Keynote Speaker, Business Wire, 22 juin 2000
  4. Aaron Dhir, Tibetan self-determination and human rights: a conversation with Eva Herzer, president of the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, Social Justice , Vol. 26, No. 1 (75), 1999, p. 72-77.
  5. Internet on the Holocaust and Genocide, Number 19 to 41, Institute of the International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide, 1989, p. 5: "A new group has been formed to support Tibetan human rights and self-determination. The group, called The International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, was proposed by MICHAEL VAN WALT, legal advisor to the Dalai Lama, and JOHN ACKERLEY, an attorney on the staff of the International Campaign for Tibet. At a series of meetings in Northern California, held at four major law schools and two general meetings, some fifty lawyers and law students signed up for the new group with some fifty other people expressing interest."
  6. Blake More, Lawyers for Tibet, Yoga Journal, 1996, p. 16
  7. Charles Burress, Bay Area Focus on Tibetan Cause, 1 mars 1996, San Francisco Chronicle
  8. Eva Herzer, Beijing Women's Conference: The Tibetan Perspective
  9. "MAKERS: ONCE AND FOR ALL". Makers (Video at 00:09:25). 30 April 2017. Archived from the original on 2015-09-19. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  10. Kunzang Yuthok, HABITAT REPORT #6 Tibetan Rights Campaign, 5 juin 1996
  11. Kunzang Yuthok, HABITAT REPORT 9 Tibetan Rights Campaign, 10 juin 1996
  12. In Wake of Chinese Crackdown, U.S. Cities Resolve to Support Tibet, 11 novembre 1999
  13. Tibetan children tortured, rights group says, Reuters, 28 juin 2000
  14. Mayank Chhaya, Dalai Lama: The Revealing Life Story and His Struggle for Tibet, I.B.Tauris, 2008, ISBN   0857711954, p. 289
  15. Dagmar Bernstorff, Hubertus von Welck, Exile as Challenge: The Tibetan Diaspora, Orient Blackswan, 2003, ISBN   8125025553, p. 428
  16. Michael C. Davis, Response and Comment, inTibet Autonomous and Self-Government: Myth or Reality?, eds Tibetan Parliamentary & Policy Research Centre. New Delhi, India, 2000, p. 131-132
  17. J. M. Mukhi, Response and Comment, inTibet Autonomous and Self-Government: Myth or Reality?, eds Tibetan Parliamentary & Policy Research Centre. New Delhi, India, 2000, p. 142-144 : "The scope of that study, obviously, is encyclopedic. [...] Ms. Herzer's paper brings out that in so far as Tibet is concerned, unless there is a sea-change in the polity of the People's Republic of China, and a democratic wind blows there, and the Constitution there provides for rights which can be claimed and got enforced by the Tibetan people through an independent judiciary that can have its orders obeyed, there will be little hope of any arrangement for Self-Rule in Tibet being viable. Will there be such a change in China? Is it realistic to expect it to happen soon?"
  18. China’s denial of Tibetan women’s right to reproductive freedom, Eva Herzer and Sara B. Levin, October 10, 1995, Tibet Justice Center
  19. David Murphy, TIBET: Mother & Child, Far Eastern Economic Review, December 27, 2001 - January 3, 2002
  20. Torri Still, Taking Aim at Chinese Policy, Lawyers Say: 'Hello, Dalai!', The Recorder: Cal Law, 6 décembre 1999.