TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Human rights groups are calling on UN member states to block China's attempt to run for one of the open seats on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) given the regime's appalling human rights record.
On Tuesday (Oct. 13), the UN General Assembly will elect 15 members to the 47-nation UNHRC for a three-year term that begins in 2021. The countries running for the four slots open to the Asia-Pacific region are China, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan.
The human rights abuses that China has committed in Xinjiang and Tibet in recent years, including the mass imprisonment of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in internment camps and the destruction of their mosques and graveyards, has many human rights groups concerned about whether China intends to use its seat on the UNHRC to shield itself from investigations, as it has in the past.
"Serial rights abusers should not be rewarded with seats on the HRC," said Louis Charbonneau, the UN director at Human Rights Watch. "China and Saudi Arabia have not only committed massive rights violations at home, but they have tried to undermine the international human rights system they’re demanding to be a part of."
Charbonneau believes when member states are not given qualified candidates, they should refuse to vote.
From 2007 to 2019, China held on to a seat at the HRC for four terms. In November 2018, the country received its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which takes place roughly every four years to allow UN member states to examine the human rights conditions of their fellow nations.
According to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), an organization dedicated to documenting and strengthening grassroots activism in China, during the reviews, the regime continually feigned engagement with the international community as a stalling tactic to avoid addressing its dismal human rights record.
The CHRD assessed 58 UPR recommendations that China claims to have "accepted" and "fully implemented," finding that 91 percent of them remain fully unaddressed with the remainder only partly addressed.
Women, the LGBT community, and ethnic minorities in China still suffer discrimination in the workplace and schools. Meanwhile, the intensifying "sinicization" of ethnic minorities has led to the establishment of re-education camps in Xinjiang to suppress Islam, while the cultures of Tibetans, Mongolians, and other minorities are being systematically eradicated.
Under the pretext of protecting national security, Chinese journalists and lawyers continue to face arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture, and collective punishment for their families. As of Oct. 4, the CHRD has documented 991 cases of civilians currently detained for national security reasons.
In a voluntary pledge submitted to the UN General Assembly on June 4, China insisted that "There is no universally applicable model, and human rights can advance only in the context of national conditions and people’s needs."
The CHRD has urged the UN member states to vote "no" on China's bid for the UNHRC seat. The group believes giving the seat to a country that does not believe in the very concept of human rights would weaken the body, not to mention allow said country to cover up its own crimes.