Governments Call Out Widespread Atrocities at UN Human Rights Review of China

Geneva UNOG

January 23, 2024 | 5:00 p.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) are calling on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to follow up on China’s implementation of recommendations in its 2022 assessment, following the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China in Geneva this morning.

“Today’s UPR sent a strong message to Beijing that the entire world is watching, and not only the West. Hearing some Global South members make strong recommendations was encouraging,” said the WUC President, Dolkun Isa. “However, the Muslim-majority countries have failed to even mention the persecution of Uyghurs, except a few, like Kuwait and Türkiye. It is shameful.”

“The review further demonstrates the need for the rest of the UN system to wake up to continuing atrocities,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “China can rally its allies to sign its praises, but the facts emanating from nearly all of the UN’s experts speak for themselves.”

Eleven states specifically referred to the recommendations set out in the assessment published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Switzerland referred to crimes against humanity and the United States to genocide in their statements and recommendations. 

Dozens of member states raised a range of issues related to atrocity crimes in East Turkistan. This included mass, arbitrary detention, forced labour, the destruction and marginalization of cultural heritage, religious persecution, coerced family planning policies, and reprisals against human rights defenders and civil society.

Several states noted reprisals and restrictions on civil society actors in China, including Germany, Ireland, Estonia, and the United Kingdom. This comes following news of the circulation of a note verbale last week urging the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) to prevent access to “anti-China” activists, including WUC President, Dolkun Isa. The heavy presence of Chinese government-organized NGOs (GONGOs) at the review continues to undermine the credibility of the process.

Governments also raised recommendations related to business and human rights. Ecuador called on China to ensure that companies and financial institutions respect human rights in their business activities, and Czechia called on China to abide by the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights in their trade and investment. Mexico recommended that China implement recommendations on business and human Rights issued by the Committee on the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).

Encouragingly, several Global South states including Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, and the Bahamas urged China to accept pending requests for visits by UN experts. China’s lack of meaningful, good faith, cooperation with the UN’s human rights mechanisms was additionally raised by Argentina and Ukraine. The Chinese government, despite stating that it seeks “cooperation” with UN mechanisms, has allowed access on a very selective basis over the last two decades.

The UPR is the UN Human Rights Council’s interstate review mechanism that schedules each UN Member State for a peer review of its human rights records every five years. The member state under review receives recommendations from member states for continuous improvement.

Read more:

UHRP Submission for UN UPR Consideration of China’s Human Rights Record, July 18, 2023

WUC Submits Report Ahead of UPR Review on China, July 20, 2023