Today the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) was denied accreditation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) at the 4th PrepCom meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
China once again used a no-action motion to block discussion on accreditation. 90 countries voted for China’s no-action motion, 37 countries against and 10 countries abstained. Interestingly, about 50 countries were absent at the time of voting. Pakistan and Cuba spoke in favour of China’s no-action motion, while the USA and Spain (on behalf of the EU) defended TCHRD.
China’s objection to TCHRD’s application was outlined in a letter addressed to the Secretary General Kofi Annan dated 14 May 2002. The Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN alleged in this letter that members of TCHRD were “separatists” and that “we value and support…participation of those NGOs which have made positive and concrete contributions in close cooperation with China.”
Under ECOSOC Rules, NGOs have a right to respond to objections to accreditation. Therefore on 23 May 2002 TCHRD addressed a letter to the Secretary General Kofi Annan in response to China’s allegations. The letter was sent to the Major Groups Program Coordinator of the WSSD Secretariat with a request to forward it to PrepCom members. However it appears from the press release by the United Nations dated 31 May 2002, that while the Preparatory Committee considered China’s letter, it did not consider TCHRD’s letter.
A joint statement was issued by several NGOs attending the Bali PrepCom supported TCHRD’s accreditation. The statement said “China’s objection to TCHRD’s participation is not based on the merits but rather is a reflection of political animosity towards a human rights organisation. Exclusion of an otherwise-qualified NGO on the basis of politics would denigrate the spirit and objectives of the World Summit.” Among the signatories to this statement were Green Peace (International and South Africa); Earth Justice (USA); Centre for International Environment Law (Washington DC); NGOs at the Indonesian Peoples Forum; International Institute for Sustainable Future Association of World Citizens; and the Earth Island Institute.
China has already used no-action motions to block accreditation to the WSSD for two other NGOs, the International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibet Justice Centre.
Tsewang Lhadon, the Executive Director of TCHRD said, “All we are asking for is the right to participate in a conference. China is so desperate to stop any critical discussion of Tibet in the international arena that it stoops to procedural means to stifle debate. Supporting a no-action motion undermines the basic principles of democracy and freedom of expression.”
“TCHRD would like to thank all those countries who voted to support our accreditation. We are also heartened to see that many international NGOs also lent their support,” Tsewang Lhadon added.
TCHRD is an independent human rights NGO based in Dharamsala, India. Information gathered from first hand interviews of recently-arrived Tibetan refugees is translated into English and disseminated through reports. TCHRD also publishes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other UN Conventions in Tibetan language.