China’s Appointment to UN Human Rights Council Panel Draws Heavy Criticism

China’s Appointment to UN Human Rights Council Panel Draws Heavy Criticism
Delegates attend the opening of the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on February 24, 2020 in Geneva. -(Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Cathy He

The Chinese communist regime has been appointed to a panel on the U.N. Human Rights Council that helps select the body’s rights investigators, despite the regime’s long track record of severe rights abuses against religious groups, dissidents, and ethnic minorities.

Jiang Duan, minister at China’s mission to the U.N. in Geneva, was appointed on April 1 to be the Asia-Pacific representative of the five-member Consultative Group of the Council.

The group vets candidates for the role of independent experts who investigate and report on human rights situations in specific countries or on issues such as religious freedom or freedom of speech.

The appointment was decried by U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based human rights advocacy group, as “absurd and immoral.”

“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, said in an April 2 statement.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is routinely called out by the United States and rights bodies as one of the world’s top abusers of human rights and religious freedoms. Along with persecuting faith groups such as Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uyghur Muslims, it also suppresses those who are critical of the Party or speak out on issues deemed sensitive by the socialist regime.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Chinese authorities silenced doctors who tried to sound the alarm about the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, and reprimanded them for “spreading rumors.”

“As the world is suffering from the deadly coronavirus pandemic that spread like wildfire in Wuhan while China silenced doctors, journalists and other citizens who tried to sound the alarm, by what logic can the Beijing regime be involved in choosing the UN’s next global monitor on the right to health?” Neuer said.

Membership to the 47-nation Human Rights Council has attracted scrutiny over the years. The United States withdrew from the body in 2018, with then-U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley calling it “a protector of human rights abuses, and a cesspool of political bias.”

“The Human Rights Council has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy, with many of the world’s worst human rights abuses going ignored and some of the world’s most serious offenders sitting on the council itself,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time.

He identified China, Cuba, and Venezuela as some of the worst human rights abusers that sit on the council.