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UN must hold China to account over human rights PDF Print E-mail
[15 November 2013] Following the election of China to the UN Human Rights Council on 12 November, Tibet Society is calling on the UN and countries on the Council to hold the Chinese government to account to pledges made in its election bid, which include the protection of ethnic minority rights.

On 12 November, UN member states voted China back onto the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after a three-year absence. Despite China's human rights record and lobbying by Tibet groups and supporters world-wide, China received 176 votes out of a possible 192. As the UNHRC vote was held in secret, it is not known which countries voted against China's election to the UNHRC.

UNHRC logoPhilippa Carrick, CEO of Tibet Society, said, That China, with its abhorrent human rights record, was easily re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council is thoroughly depressing. The UN and those sitting on the Council must now take substantive measures to ensure China adheres to commitments documented in its official election bid including its pledge to improve the rights of its ethnic minorities. Anything else would be hypocrisy and would call into question the veracity of the Council.

Following the election, a spokesperson for the US State Department said, We regret that some countries elected to the Human Rights Council have failed to show their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.

UNHRC in sessionWhen questioned prior to the UNHRC vote, the UK government would not reveal if it intended to vote against China, but a letter from the Foreign Office stated, "[The UK] carefully considers every country that stands for election to the UN Human Rights Council." The Foreign Office added that the UK government "will continue to engage China on human rights issues, including through discussion of its specific pledges to the UN Human Rights Council as part of its bid for membership."

The UK was also gained a seat on the UNHRC on 12 November. Following the UK's successful bid, Foreign Secretary William Hague said, "We will use our voice to help strengthen the Council, to support countries working to improve their human rights record, and to call to account nations that commit serious and systematic violations against their citizens."

Hague added, "We will work tirelessly to protect the most vulnerable people from discrimination and to champion global causes including... the universal right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief."

Avaaz logoIn the run-up to the election, over one million people
signed a petition calling on China to end the repression of the Tibetan people and "become a human rights leader fit to sit on the Council". The petition, distributed by Avaaz, the international activist network, called on UN member states to "ask China for specific and monitorable commitments as it seeks votes to return to the UN Human Rights Council." The recommended commitments included the freedom of expression, religion, association and assembly and full access for UN investigators.

The UNHRC was created in 2006, replacing the UN Commission on Human Rights. As the UNs top human rights body it is mandated to promote and protect human rights worldwide and address human rights violations. One of its mechanisms is the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which assesses the human rights records of all UN member states. China's UPR was held in October, with the UK and 11 other countries specifically raising concerns over the human rights situation in Tibet.

Further reading: Bloomberg I Foreign Office I Avaaz
Tibet Society:
China's human rights record in Tibet criticised at UN (29 Oct)

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Family 36; Life 500)
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