'Fox Guarding the Henhouse': China's Appointment to UN Human Rights Panel Draws Mounting Opposition

'Fox Guarding the Henhouse': China's Appointment to UN Human Rights Panel Draws Mounting Opposition
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is seen on a giant screen addressing at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on Feb. 24, 2020 in Geneva. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Cathy He

A growing chorus of officials and activists are calling on the United Nations to reverse the appointment of China—one of the world's worst human rights abusers—to a seat on a U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) panel.

Chinese diplomat Jiang Duan's recent appointment to the five-member UNHRC Consultative Group was akin to the "fox guarding the henhouse," except "that pales as an illustration of what is taking place here," said Tony Perkins, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

China's appointment to the panel, which vets candidates for the council's independent rights experts, means it will have the power to influence the investigation of human rights issues around the world.

Perkins told The Epoch Times' "American Thought Leaders" program that the U.S. commission has spoken out against this development.

"And quite frankly, any country that cares about human rights should be speaking out about that and doing everything they can to prevent it from occurring," he added.

The commission joins calls by U.S. senators, rights lawyers, and more than 100 organizations that are protesting the move.

Earlier in April, an independent tribunal that investigated the Chinese regime's forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, urging him to investigate the appointment.

After a year-long investigation, the tribunal in June 2019 declared China a "criminal state" after determining that the regime killed prisoners of conscience—mainly Falun Gong practitioners—for their organs to be sold on the transplant market. The tribunal concluded that the organ harvesting had taken place for years on a "substantial scale," and persists today.

The letter from the tribunal's chairman, Sir Geoffrey Nice, and other members, warned that allowing Beijing a role on the panel means the U.N. would be "sleepwalking into complicity" with Beijing's human rights abuses.

The tribunal added that it had "grave concerns" that the "great institutions" of the world, including the U.N., were unwilling to confront the regime on its "extreme human rights abuses" relating to forced organ harvesting.

The letter describes China's forced organ harvesting as "comparable, victim for victim and death for death, to the worst atrocities committed in conflicts of the 20th century."

"The gassing of a Jew by the Nazis, the murder or butchery of an innocent by the Khmer Rouge or by Rwanda Hutus may not be worse than having a heart, liver or other organs—and the very soul—cut from a living, blameless, harmless, peaceable person,” the letter stated, quoting the tribunal's judgment.

A spokesperson for the UNHRC told The Epoch Times that members of the Consultative Group serve in a "personal capacity," and that the group "does not have any influence over, nor can they facilitate discussions on what issues are addressed by the Human Rights Council."

The U.N. Secretary General's office didn't immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Several U.S. senators, including John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), also wrote to Guterres, condemning the U.N. appointment.

"The Chinese government's decision to deceive the international community about the grave dangers of the initial 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, China, violates any credibility on human rights and should disqualify them from a position on the Human Rights Council Consultative Group," they wrote.

Eva Fu contributed to this report. 
Cathy He is an editor focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She previously worked as a government lawyer in Australia. She joined The Epoch Times in February 2018. Contact Cathy at cathy.he@epochtimes.com.