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China’s rights record to face universal scrutiny at UN on Jan 23

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan19’24) – The human rights record of a stubbornly uncooperative China will be examined by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the fourth time on Jan 23 in a meeting in Geneva that will be webcast live. Many Tibetan and human rights groups have submitted reports on the situation in occupied Tibet for the Working Group’s consideration.

China will be one of 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session from Jan 22 to Feb 2. The previous UPR reviews of China took place in Feb 2009, Oct 2013, and No 2018, respectively, noted the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a press release Jan 18.

While the UPR Working Group is comprised of the 47 Member States of the Human Rights Council, each of the 193 UN Member States can participate in a country review, the release further noted.

The release explained that the documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report – information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; and 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations, and civil society groups.

These reports., which will serve as the basis for the review of China on Jan 23, can be found here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/upr/cn-index.

The UPR is a peer review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States, with the first one held in Apr 2008. During the ongoing fourth UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow up on and highlight recent human rights developments in the country.

At the conclusion of China’s 2018 UPR, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng declared that his government had accepted 284 of 346 recommendations.

However, a briefing paper in Dec 2023, The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a coalition of Chinese and international human rights non-governmental organizations, said, “the overwhelming majority of those accepted recommendations were so weak, vague, or based on flawed assumptions, that progress towards them cannot be meaningfully verified. Worse still, dozens of the accepted recommendations also clearly or implicitly endorse human rights violations. The Chinese government had not accepted 284 recommendations designed to fulfill the UPR’s original objective to ‘improve…the human rights situation on the ground’ and ‘fulfill…the State’s human rights obligations and commitments.’ Making and accepting recommendations that do nothing to halt the authorities’ assault on human rights and their defenders undermines the purpose of the UPR.”

As noted by Washington-based Tibet advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet Jan 11, the CHRD paper further said, “The Chinese government has, as in the past three rounds of UPR, systematically blocked victims and civil society from participating in the preparation of its State reports, even though States under review are supposed ‘to prepare the information through a broad consultation process at the national level with all relevant stakeholders.’ The government silenced critical voices domestically and engaged in transnational repression to intimidate victims and NGOs internationally. China’s state reports inevitably did not present an ‘objective’ assessment of its human rights record.”

The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the upcoming review of China are Albania, Malawi and the United Arab Emirates.

The hearing will end with the UPR Working Group adopting on Jan 26 the recommendations made to China. China is entitled to express its positions on the recommendations posed to it during the review.

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