China now vying for a UN right council seat amid strong international criticisms

China is now running for a seat on the council itself.

(, Oct10’20) – After gaining a seat on the Consultative Group of the UN Human Rights Council in April this year amid much criticism, China is now running for a seat on the council itself. Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups are urging countries not to elect China to the council, although this may be to no avail given Beijing’s influence in the world body.

Voting for 15 of the council’s total of 47 seats will be held at the United Nations General Assembly next week. The election takes place annually for staggered three-year terms.

“Serial rights abusers should not be rewarded with seats on the Human Rights Council,” Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, has said. “China and Saudi Arabia have not only committed massive rights violations at home, but they have tried to undermine the international human rights system they’re demanding to be a part of.”

Likewise, on Oct 8, Chinese Human Rights Defenders tweeted “We urge UN 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.” The group also said China “had failed to protect and promote human rights in any meaningful way.”

On Oct 6, a coalition of 39 countries denounced China for gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, and for curbing civil liberties in Hong Kong at the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee.

Deutsche Welle reported that China responded angrily to the statement, which was read by the German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, after reportedly being caught off guard by level of support.

China occupied a seat on the council as recently as 2019.

Members vie for seats on the council within their regional groupings. Even if China fails to gain a seat on the Human Rights Council, it is all but assured that another major rights violator will win a seat. Just five countries are contesting the four available seats in the Asia-Pacific group, including China, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, noted Oct 9.


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