Andréa Worden: China’s Win-win at the UN Human Rights Council: Just Not for Human Rights

The following is an excerpt of an article titled “China’s win-win at the UN Human Rights Council: Just not for human rights” by Andréa Worden. Read the full text of the article at Project Sinopsis.

Before the Human Rights Council (HRC) suspended its 43rd session due to Covid-19 on March 13, 2020, the PRC had tabled its second resolution on ‘promoting mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of human rights’.1 When the HRC resumes in mid-June to conclude its final week of the session, it’s crucial that a vote be called on the PRC’s resolution2 and that governments concerned about China’s efforts to weaken international human rights and mechanisms vote against it.3 The draft resolution aims to further embed Xi Jinping’s ideas, discourse, and policy into the work and language of the Council, and subvert the purpose and mission of the HRC, which is to promote “universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all” and to address, and make recommendations on, situations of human rights violations.4 China wants to turn the HRC into something else entirely: a shell, emptied of universal values, substantive rights, and independent human rights monitoring mechanisms — a body in which individuals and civil society organizations seeking to hold governments to account for human rights violations have no place and no voice.5

The PRC’s resolution would move the Council one step closer to becoming a ‘Human Rights Council with CCP characteristics’ in which sovereignty, non-interference, ‘dialogue and cooperation,’ ‘mutual respect’ and multilateralism would be prioritized as fundamental, non-negotiable principles, and the promotion and protection of human rights of individuals rendered an afterthought. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a state-led ‘cooperative mechanism’ based on ‘interactive dialogue,’ which the PRC has used to advance its own anti-human rights agenda,6 would effectively displace mechanisms staffed and led by independent experts, such as the special procedures and the treaty bodies, which the Chinese party-state (and other illiberal governments) routinely attack.7 The PRC’s ‘mutually beneficial cooperation’ (MBC) initiative, coupled with its ‘development first’8 strategy and tactical use of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee (HRCAC, or Advisory Committee) to generate ‘studies’ to support its views and agenda,9 aim to insinuate China’s rights-negating vision and discourse into the work of the Council. Accordingly, governments supportive of human rights and the international human rights system should call for a vote on the PRC’s tabled resolution, and vote against its adoption. And they should also consider submitting comments and questions to the HRCAC on its troubling study of ‘the role of technical assistance and capacity-building in fostering mutually beneficial cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights,’ which was prepared for the 43rd session.10 [Source]

See also a previous article by Worden, “The CCP at the UN: Redefining Development and Rights.”

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