China, world’s top human rights violator re-elected to UNHRC

DHARAMSALA, 14 Oct: China has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) in spite of strong objections from member states, rights groups and activists alike over China’s human rights record.

The election of China, along with the other authoritarian regimes to the UN body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world courted heavy criticism. 

“The election of China, Russia, and Cuba to the UN Human Rights Council validates the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Council in 2018 and use other venues to protect and promote universal human rights.  At #UNGA this year, we did just that,” the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo tweeted slamming China’s election.

The US withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council accusing the body of being ‘biased and failing to hold human rights abusers accountable’.

China was re-elected on Tuesday by the smallest margin as it secured 139 votes out of the 193 members, down by 41 votes it got in 2016.

Calling the sudden drop in votes a sign that more states are disturbed by China’s abysmal rights record, Human Rights Watch’s UN Director Louis Charbonneau tweeted “The last time China ran for the UN Human Rights Council, it received more votes than any other nation. This time, it received the fewest of those elected. Had the Asia-Pacific region allowed more of a choice, China might well have been defeated.”

China’s membership to the UNHRC came under the scanner prior to the vote. 

The UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization whose stated mission is to monitor the performance of the United Nations has refuted China’s UNHRC campaign claims and declared that China’s “candidacy should be rejected because China does not meet the membership criteria set out in UN General Assembly (GA) Resolution 60/251” in a written statement it submitted before the UN Secretary-General.

Additionally, days before the election, led by Germany, as many as 39 UN member states expressed their widespread human rights violations in Tibet, East Turkistan(Chinese: Xinjiang) and Hong Kong.

Besides, 115 Tibet related groups have also – all committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of those living under Chinese rule – have penned an open letter to UN member states urging them to vote against China’s election bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

For the uninitiated, over the past few years, Beijing has systematically positioned Chinese nationals at the head of a wide range of UN agencies. 

As it stands, China leads 4 of the 15 UN specialised agencies. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization, International Telecommunication Union, Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the International Civil Aviation Organization are all heeded by Chinese diplomats.

Earlier this year in August, again, notwithstanding strong objection from the US,  a Chinese diplomat was elected as a judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention to hear and settle maritime disputes. 

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