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China blocks US Resolution on Human Rights at 60th UNHCHR

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses its dismay over the rejection of a draft resolution on human rights situation in China at the 60th session of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Geneva.

A draft resolution (E/CN.4/2004/L.37) proposed by the United States of America was dismissed at the 60th UNHCHR when China called for “No-Action Motion”. The motion warranted voting by all the 53 member states of UN on the resolution. The voting on China’s No-Action Motion which took place at 18.00 hours on 15 April resulted in 28 votes in favour, 16 against and three abstentions.

Between the period of 1990 and 2004, 11 such resolutions on China were tabled at the annual meetings of the UNHCHR and all have been defeated by China’s No-Action Motion. The year 1995 saw China’s No-Action Motion against the resolution resulting in a tie but the Resolution itself was later defeated by one vote. This year, out of total 53 UN member states that participated in the voting, TCHRD found 28 member states to be new.

The voting pattern of the past decade (1990 – 2004) illustrates wave of favour over resolutions from the North American States and European States, and only few supports from Asia Pacific Regions and African States, and neutral stand taken by majority of the Latin American and Carribean States through abstention.

The US draft resolution presented at the Commission reiterates the “obligation on the part of Member States to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms as stated in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR) and further noted “the transformation of Chinese Society”. The Resolution additionally took note of “some steps taken by China over the past two decades to enhance the enjoyment of human rights”. However, the Resolution expresses concern about “continuing reports of severe restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, expression, conscience and religion”; lack of adequate legal process and transparency, and “arrest and severe sentences” for those exercising their fundamental rights. The Resolution “encourages China to permit visits by UN Mechanisms” and to take “additional steps to cooperate with the international community in the human rights area”.

TCHRD considers the year 2003 as the year of gravest human rights violations in Tibet as evidenced by Lobsang Dhondup’s execution, upholding of death sentence for Trulku Tenzin Delek, and reports of 27 new arrests of Tibetans, closure of a monastic school, and forceful eviction of Tibetan nomads and herders from their traditional landholdings under the pretext of  “development”. The much hyped development projects in Tibet are devoid of Tibetan participation and consultation from decision-making to its actual implementation.

Many human rights watchdog including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Tibet Information Network and International Campaign for Tibet have continued to highlight cases of China’s human rights abuses and furthermore, several government delegates at the UN Commission have urged the Chinese Government to respect the international human rights treaties to which they are a signatory.

On 14 April 2004, a day before the No-Action Motion took place, a three fact-finding experts of the United Nations Commission namely Mr.Ambeyi Ligabo, Special Rapporteur on the Right of Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Mr. Leandro Despony, Independence of Judge and Lawyers and Ms. Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights, released a statement on Human Rights. The statement expressed “deep concern” over situation of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche as he “might be executed at any time upon expiration of the suspension of his death sentence on 3 December 2004”. The experts also shared concerns over “alleged lapses in trial proceedings” of Trulku Tenzin Delek and urges the authorities in China to “grant him [Tenzin Delek] a new trial ensuring respect for international norms and standard of due process”.

The dismal voting record on China Resolution reflects the failure of UN member states in taking a principled stand on the propounded ideals of fundamental freedoms and human rights as enshrined in the UDHR. It is also indicative of China’s success and sophistication in pursuance of its aggressive lobby tactics and diplomatic pressures by using both economic and political leverage. The second factor is evident from the support that China has managed to garner over the years from developing countries such as African States and countries from Asia Pacific Region.

TCHRD condemns China’s continued use of No-Action Motion, as a permanent member of the U.N Security Council, as it curtails the stated missions and principles of the United Nations. It brings into question the legitimacy and effectiveness of the United Nations and its committee on human rights. TCHRD urge the UN member countries to effectively and unfailingly address human rights concerns at such multinational platform thereby ensuring that all its members respect the fundamental human rights and freedom as enshrined in international laws and domestic laws. TCHRD calls upon the Chinese Government to stop human rights violations in Tibet.

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