New UN High Commissioner Must Pursue Accountability Following Historic Report Citing Crimes Against Humanity

Volker Turk

September 8, 2022 | 2:00 p.m. EDT
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes the newly-appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, and urges robust follow-up to the recent UN report citing possible crimes against humanity.

“There should be no special treatment for powerful governments who commit the most serious human rights abuses,” said UHRP Executive Director, Omer Kanat. “The UN’s top human rights official needs to demonstrate that he understands the gravity of the issues facing Uyghurs, and this should be reflected in a strong approach to the Chinese government.”

The appointment of the new High Commissioner follows the four-year mandate of Michelle Bachelet, who released a long-delayed report on the situation facing Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan in the last moments of her term.

The new High Commissioner should take up the report and vigorously pursue accountability for abuses, and should demonstrate to the victims of human rights abuses that they are seen and heard through meaningful engagement with civil society. Mr. Türk must show that he can act independently in his role as the UN’s leading human rights advocate, and call out powerful actors, like the Chinese government, to stop abuses.

Last week, in a joint statement, UHRP and 62 other Uyghur organizations from 20 countries called on the Human Rights Council to take steps to establish a Commission of Inquiry to examine the treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples.

The statement also called for other UN agencies and offices, like the International Labour Organization, UNESCO, and the UN Office on Genocide Prevention, to follow up to the report and act on their mandates, to address the High Commisioner’s findings and recommendations; and for governments and international organizations to take urgent steps to protect Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples at imminent risk of refoulement.

Read more: 

UN Confirms Conclusive Evidence of Atrocities Against Uyghurs, September 1, 2022

UHRP Welcomes UN Expert’s Report Citing Possible Crimes Against Humanity, August 16, 2022

Over 220 Groups Urgently Demand UN High Commissioner Immediately Postpone Her Visit to China, May 6, 2022 

UN High Commissioner must uphold principled and coherent response to China’s human rights crisis, April 19, 2022

UHRP Urges Caution Ahead of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Visit, March 8, 2022

Open letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: OHCHR report on grave human rights violations in Xinjiang can wait no longer, March 8, 2022

UHRP Welcomes UN Joint Statement on Uyghur Crisis, Awaits Release of High Commissioner Report, October 22, 2021

Civil society groups welcome action by UN human rights experts to address forced labour in Uyghur region, March 30, 2021

#VoteNoChina: 70 Uyghur organizations call governments to vote against China’s election to UN human rights body, October 7, 2020

China should not be appointing UN investigators while refusing cooperation with them, April 7, 2020