Uyghurs regret the election of China to UN Human Rights Council

For immediate release
October 13, 2020 2:38pm EDT
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is dismayed by the election of China to the UN Human Rights Council, and urges member states to take immediate steps to hold China accountable for ongoing and egregious abuses targeting Uyghurs.

“Governments committing genocide shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Human Rights Council,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. "It's clear from the vote, however, that China is losing the confidence of the international community."

China received only 139 votes from UN member states in comparison to 180 in 2016. Last week, 39 member states at the Third Committee delivered a statement, led by the German delegation, expressing grave concern about the situation in East Turkistan.

The Chinese government blocks UN human rights investigations, intimidates victims who try to bring cases to the UN, and uses its power and influence to exclude or limit the voice of civil society, putting pressure on UN staff to hide or suppress reports from Uyghur and Tibetan organisations.

Last week, UHRP and the World Uyghur Congress, along with 68 other Uyghur organizations from 18 countries, called on UN member states last week to vote against China’s candidature for the Council, given its ongoing and systematic human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs. 

Despite the election, the Council remains an important mechanism for holding human rights perpetrators to account for abuses. China’s re-election to the Human Rights Council must serve as a means by which states can hold China to account for egregious rights violations.

We will continue to call for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations taking place in the Uyghur Region and to develop strategies to end these violations.
Leadership at the UN requires full respect for the founding principles of the UN system, principally the respect for basic human rights.

If the Chinese government continues to operate concentration camps and commit what experts are calling genocide against Uyghurs, member states should seriously reassess China’s role within the UN system altogether.