Human-Rights Groups Protest China's Bid for U.N. Human Rights Council

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October 9, 2020

Multiple prominent human-rights groups have protested against China's bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.

China, which served on the council as recently as 2019, could be reappointed to its position by a membership vote on Oct. 13. Both Human Rights Watch and Chinese Human Rights Defenders issued statements this week calling on the U.N. to block China from the council. 

"We urge U.N. member states to take strong and effective action in response to increasing human-rights violations in China and the government's failure to fully implement [U.N.] recommendations," Chinese Human Rights Defenders tweeted Thursday. The organization also said China "has failed to protect and promote human rights in any meaningful way."

If China is granted a seat, the Human Rights Council would count one of the world's worst human-rights abusers among its members. China ranks in the bottom 10 countries in Freedom House's global freedom index for, among many things, its ongoing genocide of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province and its suppression of civil liberties. Human-rights groups have also criticized China for its repression of cultural freedom in Tibet and its hostile takeover of Hong Kong this summer.

The Washington Free Beacon reported last month on how China uses positions of authority at multilateral organizations like the U.N. to deflect concerns about its own human-rights abuses. Most recently, China leveraged its ties to the World Health Organization to mitigate blame on Beijing in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

"China is constantly working behind the scenes to gain more influence globally," former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley told the Free Beacon. "That's especially true at the U.N., whether it's distracting from their own human-rights abuses, manipulating to gain control of U.N. agencies, or bullying smaller countries to vote their way."

The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the Human Rights Council in 2018, citing the organization's protection of human-rights abusers and chronic bias against Israel. The Democratic Party, however, calls on the United States to rejoin the Human Rights Council in its 2020 national platform. Until an August Free Beacon report, the Biden campaign also had no plank regarding Chinese human-rights violations in Tibet.