Along with Venezuela, Pakistan, Eritrea and Qatar, China will serve one year in the exclusive body of five persons who will select United Nations human rights investigators.
by Marco Respinti
On April 1, 2020 Mr. Jiang Duan, Minister Counselor at the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China, was appointed to the Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group. He will serve until March 31, 2021 playing a key role in selecting human rights investigators in various United Nations bodies. The remaining four members are from Venezuela, Pakistan, Eritrea and Qatar. It was April Fool’s Day, but it was no joke.
The Consultative Group will, inter alia, appoint three new members of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, where high-profile cases are pending against China, including one about two members of The Church of Almighty God, arbitrarily detained for no other reasons than practicing their religion.
Given the miserable record of China in human rights, and in the midst of the storm regarding the systematic Chinese cover-up on the coronavirus pandemic, 82 organizations and associations chiefly from Central and Eastern Europe submitted a joint petition calling for the cancellation of such an appointment and submitted it to the UN General Secretary Mr. António Guterres, the Chair of the General Assembly’s Third Committee Mr. Christian Braun, the President of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Ms. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet, and each of the 55 member states of the Asia-Pacific regional group which nominated China to the consultative group of the UNHRC.
The signers are overwhelmingly Tibetan and pro-Tibet organizations, and the petition expressly states the specific concern of the Tibetan diaspora, but it makes also clear that the nomination of China at the UNHRC’s Consultative Group “also dampens the spirit of the Chinese Human rights Defenders, the Uyghurs, Southern-Mongolians and the Hong-Kong pro-democracy advocates who are putting their lives at risk for basic rights of their people against the self-serving interests of Chinese Communist Party Government.”
A second petition, signed also by Bitter Winter, has been launched by Jubilee Campaign and promoted by the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, and will be sent to Ms Tichy-Fisslberger at the end of April. Together, the signatories of the two petitions represent more than 100 organizations.
Normally petitions like these receive no answer, and remain suspended in a limbo of semi-existence, but surely, if the Human Rights Council wants to preserve its credibility, it should this time respond adequately.