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Relighting the Flame: Institute hosts third Rapid Response seminar on Tibet

The status of Tibet has long been in question, but a recent period of rioting in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the surrounding Chinese provinces coincided with demonstrations by supporters of an independent Tibet in various cities along the Olympic Torch route, and has once more brought the question to the fore. The subject, whilst not a 'new' one, was therefore once again in the public eye and a 'Rapid Response' Seminar was organised by the Institute to discuss the longer-term international legal questions which remain unanswered.

The event brought together experts on the issue of self-determination, the relationship between China and Tibet and freedom of expression and the media. Dr Guglielmo Verdirame (Cambridge University, 20 Essex Street Chambers), Mr Perry Keller (King's College London) and Dr Robert Dickinson (Newcastle University) gave excellent presentations. They discussed the conceptual foundations, modern origins and the role, scope and content of the doctrine of self-determination today, and analysed this doctrine with specific focus on the Tibetan situation. They also described the functioning of the media in Tibet, and highlighted the Communist goal of 'unity of thought', by which a solution is found to a problem by the main propaganda department who control the press, which is then widely disseminated as the official view, from which few deviate.

The session was well attended and there was informed and eager engagement by all present. There were also questions about the merit of autonomy for Tibet as opposed to secession, or any other varying degree of self-determination, and about whether the concept of sovereignty could be usefully discussed given that no state has recognised Tibet as sovereign since 1957.

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