Last Tuesday, China retained its membership in the Human Rights Council, the UN’s premier rights body responsible for protecting and promoting human rights globally. China received 154 votes in its reelection bid, up from 139 it received in 2020. This is the sixth time China has been elected to the Council.
“That China, with its long and egregious human rights record, can get itself elected to the Human Rights Council time and again is symptomatic of the deep ills that plague the UN human rights system,” said Ms Tenzin Dawa, executive director of TCHRD.
“The international community has long witnessed the various ways in which authoritarian states like China manipulate, obstruct and exploit the international human rights system by waging a systematic campaign to weaken and eviscerate the UN’s ability to enforce global compliance with international human rights standards.”
TCHRD believes it is time for the UN to initiate and implement major reforms to the current model of electing members to the Human Rights Council. While it is important to represent regional diversity in the Council’s membership composition, this diversity should not come at the cost of human rights. More importantly, a performance appraisal system must be implemented to prevent member-states that are habitual human rights offenders, such as China, from participating in the Council elections.
It is not enough that China is party to six human rights treaties when it has done little to nothing to improve its appalling human rights record. In fact, the human rights situation in Tibet has regressed to the point that there is compelling evidence of crimes against humanity committed by Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet.
Repeatedly electing states like China to the Council is detrimental to the goals that the Council seeks to achieve and lends perverse legitimacy to authoritarian regimes to continue committing gross human rights abuses. The international community, including the UN member states, owe it to the many brave and conscientious human rights advocates and activists in the People’s Republic of China to do what is fair, just and right.