Despite concerns about its human rights record, China secured its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council with 154 votes, marking its sixth election to the Council. China’s repeated membership raises questions about the effectiveness of the UN’s human rights system and the need for reform in the election process, emphasising the importance of implementing a performance appraisal system to prevent habitual human rights offenders from participating in Council elections. The international community is urged to take action to ensure that the Council’s goals are not compromised and to support human rights advocates in China.
Last week the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) participated in a conference on the Responsibility to Protect in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The two-day conference evaluated the Responsibility to Protect ten years after it was adopted as part of the 2005 World Outcome Document.
The 2005 World Outcome Document said that the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) rests on three pillars. First, each State has primary obligation to prevent the four atrocity crimes—genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. Second, the international community has a responsibility to assist States in preventing atrocity crimes. Third, if a State is manifestly failing to prevent or stop atrocity crimes the international community may intervene to prevent or stop atrocity crimes, including using force as a last resort.
At the end of January the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act was introduced in the United States’ Senate (S.284) and House of Representatives (H.R.624). The bill builds upon the success of the Magnitsky Act and allows the president to create a list of people who are responsible for significant corruption, extrajudicial killings, torture, and other gross human rights abuses. People on the list will be banned from the United States and have their financial assets in the United States frozen. Human rights organizations have welcomed the groundbreaking legislation.
On 7 February 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released a report regarding the human rights situation in North Korea. The chief author of the report was Michael Kirby, a retired Judge of the High Court of Australia.
A Commission of Inquiry was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate “widespread and grave violations of human rights” in North Korea. To accomplish this, the Commission questioned 80 witnesses and experts in public hearings held in four countries. The Commission also conducted over 240 confidential interviews of witnesses and experts who feared reprisals against them or their family from North Korea. The Commission also requested submissions, reviewed previously published findings, and worked with States and international organizations.
Throughout the entire process and despite numerous invitations from the Commission, North Korea refused to cooperate with the Commission. North Korea refused to allow the Commission into their country and did not respond to invitations to participate in the research or drafting of the report.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy commemorates the 53rd anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day, by releasing a report titled Ending Impunity: Crimes Against Humanity in Tibet. On 2 September, Tibetans all over the world celebrate the Tibetan Democracy Day. This latest report from TCHRD focuses on international criminal justice and argues that the conduct of high-level Chinese government officials in Tibet constitutes ‘crimes against humanity’.
This report demonstrates that even though the International Criminal Court (ICC) lacks jurisdiction to investigate the situation in Tibet, the Party officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have committed crimes against humanity in Tibet. The ICC’s lack of jurisdiction does not change the nature of crimes committed in Tibet. The inability of the ICC to investigate the situation in Tibet does not mean there is no role for international criminal justice in Tibet. Recognising that international crimes defined by the Rome Statute have been committed in Tibet gives international actors powerful legal and rhetorical tools outside of the ICC.