With China now being appointed to the Human Rights Council and the ‘consultative group’ there is concern by several countries that human rights abuses will not be investigated or properly condemned.
China has itself has regularly been accused of abuse and this could now further increase concerns that the Council has become as politicized and ineffective as its predecessor.
Colin Robertson is a former Canadian diplomat to China and to the U.N.Listen
Critics of China’s human rights record accuse the country of efforts to derail human rights resolutions whether directed at them or at others.
In July last year, 22 western nations signed a letter to the U.N about China’s arrests and incarceration of Uyghurs, and dissenters. This was followed by a letter from 37 nations, including N. Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia and others, many of whom have human rights abuses of their own people with accusations of the ‘politicization’ of human rights issues and supporting China’s actions.
Robertson says this latest appointment is part of a systematic programme of the Chinese government to seek influential positions and influence wherever it can. This is to push their global strategy of expanding Chinese interests globally beyond current aspirations in the South and East China sea, limit international criticism, and extend their power.
In an email to RCI he also wrote “The UN is the global parliament and it reflects national interests. We had hoped after the fall of the Soviet Union that the liberal international order would become the norm for all but it has not and it was naive to think it would. Russia and China see global affairs in traditional terms: as a concert of great powers each with their own spheres of influence with tributary and vassel nations within that sphere”.
He says it is unfortunate that the U.S has backed away as it leaves a vacuum and weakens the international concept of multilateralism and western ideals of ‘rule of law’.
With China now at the head of four of 15 specialized U.N. committees, there are concerns that China will not move towards a more westernized mindset, but that the world will be influenced more towards a Chinese mindset, which some critics have long said runs counter to western ideals. Germany’s foreign minister once said for example in February 2018 at the Munich security conference, ““China is developing a comprehensive system alternative to the Western one, which, unlike, our model, is not based on freedom, democracy and individual human rights”.
- The Conversatio: Matthews/ McCuaig-Johnston: China must now shape the future of human rights at the U.N.
- The Diplomat: E.Albert: Apr.8/20: China appointed to influential human rights council panel- concern about agenda
- The Conversation: A. Faiz: Jul.18/19: China is building a global coalition of human rights violators to defend its record in Xinjiang – what is its endgame?
- The Economist: D.Bell: Jun 12/18: China’s political meritocracy vs Western democracy
- CBC; G.Reaume: Nov 27/219: China is on a mission to re-make the world