An open letter to: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, UN Member States
We, the undersigned organizations, join together to call for an international mechanism to address the Chinese government’s human rights violations, and urge you to take decisive action to achieve this goal.
On 26 June 2020, an unprecedented 50 United Nations experts called for “decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China.” They highlighted China’s mass human rights violations in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang, suppression of information in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and attacks on rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and critics of the government across the country.
Our organizations are also concerned about the impact of China’s rights violations world-wide. China has targeted human rights defenders abroad, suppressed academic freedom in countries around the world, and engaged in internet censorship and digital surveillance. We deplore China’s promotion of rights-free development and the ensuing environmental degradation at the hands of government-backed extractive industries, as well as the racist treatment of people in China, or by Chinese state actors in other parts of the world.
We are dismayed at China’s efforts to distort the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council by promoting “cooperation” over accountability, and opposing initiatives to bring scrutiny of serious rights violations and international crimes in countries around the world. It has used its seat on the UN’s NGO Committee to baselessly deny accreditation to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), while accrediting government-organized NGOs (GoNGOs). It has sought to deny access to human rights defenders to UN premises, denounced speakers on NGO side events as “terrorists,” and threatened delegates to deter them from attending UN side events on rights violations, including abuses in Xinjiang.
When the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures, and dozens of states urged China to comply with international human rights standards, China contended that they were “improper remarks” that “grossly interfered” with China’s sovereignty.
A state that tries to hold itself above any kind of scrutiny presents a fundamental threat to human rights. That China—a state with extraordinary global power—expects such treatment affects us all.
We therefore endorse the call by UN experts for a Special Session of the Human Rights Council to evaluate the range of violations by China’s government, and to establish an impartial and independent UN mechanism to closely monitor, analyze, and report annually on that topic. We urge the UN Secretary-General to appoint a Special Envoy, consistent with his Call to Action on Human Rights, and we call on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to fulfil her independent mandate to monitor and publicly report on China’s sweeping rights violations. We support the call that UN member states and UN agencies use all interactions with Chinese authorities to insist that the government comply with its international human rights obligations.
We write in the spirit of global solidarity and partnership, urging that you act swiftly to counter and remediate grave human rights violations committed by Chinese authorities. No state should be above the law.
*Signatories totaled 321 organizations.