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UN Commission on Human Rights ignores China’s human rights violations

April 18, 2001

Human Rights in China (HRIC) deplores the failure of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to uphold its mandate and address human rights violations in all parts of the world by holding China accountable for its egregious violations of human rights.

Once again, China has prevented the 53-member Commission from voting on a resolution concerning its human rights record by initiating a "no-action motion," which was adopted today by six votes — with 23 in favor, 17 against and 12 abstentions. This motion prevents any vote on the resolution itself. China has been the only country ever to resort to this motion in the Commission. It uses this procedural device as a form of veto power to shield itself from any criticism.

"It is scandalous that the world’s highest human rights body has again closed its eyes to human rights abuses in China." said Xiao Qiang, HRIC Executive Director. "With this vote, every human rights victim in China from tortured Falungong practitioners to those imprisoned for advocating democracy has been turned away at the door which, among all others, should be open to them."

Since 1990, the CHR has been prevented from voting on a resolution which would hold China accountable for its human rights violations. The only exception was in 1995 when the no-action motion was rejected. As a result, there has been no monitoring of the world’s most populated country by the world’s highest human rights body. HRIC believes that this demonstrates a lack of willingness by the CHR to apply its rules equally to all countries, regardless of their size or influence. Such acquiescence to China critically undermines the Commission’s mandate, which is to examine the human rights situation in "any part of the world."

HRIC is also concerned about the influx of Chinese "Government Organized Non-Governmental Organizations" (GONGOs) which have praised China’s human rights record at this year’s Commission. This is particularly disturbing in light of China’s actions to stifle any critical voices: China interrupted statements to the Commission by exiled Chinese human rights defenders like Mr. Wei Jingsheng, and is blocking the access of non-governmental organizations like HRIC and others to the UN World Conference Against Racism. These acts demonstrate China’s determination to undermine the international human rights regime and circumvent any meaningful monitoring.

The United States was the lone sponsor of the resolution on China’s human rights situation as no other state would act as a co-sponsor. The resolution expressed concern about: "severe restrictions on the rights of citizens to the freedoms of assembly, association, expression, conscience and religion;" "increased restrictions" on the fundamental freedoms of Tibetans; "continuing arrests and harsh sentencing" of members of the China Democracy Party; curbs on religious rights; and the "increasingly severe measures taken against adherents of movements such as the Falun Gong."

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