This Day in International Law – April 29
By: Alfredo Diaz
Photo: Andy Cross
On April 29, 1951, Tibetan delegates met with a Chinese delegation at a military headquarters in Beijing to begin drafting what would become “The Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet,” or “the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” for short.
A relationship marked at times by mutual recognition of authority, at other times by bid for military superiority, Tibet enjoyed three decades of continuous and total independence leading up to this point. Under the agreement, the delegates of the 14th Dalai Lama, sovereign of the de facto state of Tibet, affirmed Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. While the Chinese regarded the document as a legal international contract mutually agreed upon by both governments and the Tibetan People, the Central Tibetan Administration argued the Agreement lacked validity under international law because they believe it was signed under duress.
The agreement remains controversial. Though Tibetans felt a general threat from China’s potential to use military force if an agreement was not reached, there was no physical violence against the signatories, nor any other apparent unlawful pressure exerted upon signatories that removed their full authority or volition to finalize an agreement. Thus, although violated by the Peoples Republic of China, the agreement was not invalid under international law.
Alfredo is a JD candidate at Berkeley Law. He is a student contributor for Travaux.