China awarded UNHCR appointment despite long record of human rights abuses

On April 1, Jiang Duan, an official at the Chinese mission in Geneva, was appointed to serve on the Consultative Group of UN Human Rights Council. The Consultative Group, an extremely influential five-member panel, oversees the selection of at least 17 UN human rights officials who investigate and report on violations.  According to UN Watch, China will serve as Chair of the interview process for at least 5 of these positions and will make appointment recommendations.  As a subsidiary of the Human Rights Council (UNHCR), the Consultative Group is supposed to abide by the same underlying mandates: to promote and protect human rights around the globe. China, the world’s leading sponsor of human rights abuses, will now represent this mission.

China currently perpetuates modern-day slavery through its tyrannical detainment of Uighur Muslims in make-shift concentration camps. In the last three years, over two million ethnic minorities, including Uzbeks and Kazakhs, have been forced into prison-like conditions, where sexual abuse and various forms of torture have been reported.  The UN has repeatedly failed to denounce this blatant abuse of human rights on many levels. When the UN’s Under Secretary for Counterterrorism Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov visited the region of Xianjing last year, he failed to mention the atrocities occurring in this region. Five leading human rights groups in late 2019, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, publicly urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to condemn these labor camps.

According to Human Rights Watch, Chinese officials have threatened delegations when its human rights record was to be routinely reviewed over the last two years. Concurrently, Chinese diplomats intentionally provided false information to its reviewers and threatened those attempting to attend a panel discussion on Uighurs in Xinjiang. Clearly, the UN has been unsuccessful in thwarting off pressure to keep China’s countless atrocities against its own citizens under wraps.

At a 2017 UN Human Rights Council meeting, Jiang responded to criticism of China’s human rights abuses by condemning racism and far-right hatred in the United States and Europe and accusing the United Kingdom of “modern day slavery.”

As the world confronts the deadly coronavirus pandemic, China is seizeing the opportunity to spread disinformation and further suppress basic freedoms. At the onset of the pandemic, Chinese media outlets were instructed to give the news of the disease a ‘positive spin.’ Chinese Communist Party officials even barred the World Health Organization (WHO) from entering the country until mid-February. To this day, the US Centers for Disease Control has not been asked to assist in investigating the spread and origin of this virus.

China’s President, Xi Jinping, alongside his authoritarian counterparts in Russia and Iran, willfully peddled disinformation and suppressed truth-tellers from the onset of the virus. Chinese Communist Party officials and diplomats spread discredited theories through a network of government-linked social media accounts. One of the more widely circulated theories claim the virus is an American-made bioweapon brought to China by US military personnel.

Instead of punishing the Chinese regime for its intentional misreporting and contribution to the spread of the pandemic, this already discredited United Nations has disparaged itself further by allowing this tyrannical government to greatly increase its influence in the UN Human Rights Council.

About the Author
I work at a Washington D.C. think tank- The Center for Security Policy. The Center focuses on national security matters. I just returned to the US from Israel where I received my MA in government with specialization in Counter-Terrorism from IDC Herzliya. I also interned at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism located on campus. My previous experience includes interning with Hudson Institute's Center for Political-Military Analysis, where I focused on China and Iran.
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