The Chinese Government has launched a campaign to pressure governments not to support the application of International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) for accreditation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).

While ICT believes that it meets the stated criteria for accreditation by demonstrating “relevance and competence in the field of sustainable development,” China is trying to block ICT’s participation in the Summit because of political concerns.

“It is shameful that China’s objection to ICT’s accreditation is based solely on irrelevant political motivations and not ICT’s merits,” said Bhuchung Tsering, Director of ICT.

ICT has researched and published reports on sustainable development in Tibet, actively monitors development projects in Tibet in order to promote the principles of sustainable development, advocates for the rights of Tibetans to participate in decisions related to resource management and publishes a newsletter devoted to Tibetan environment and development issues.

“ICT works to promote sustainable development in Tibet,” said Tsering. “Our work over the last 13 years has focused on the interconnected principles of respect for human rights, environmental protection and stewardship, economic justice, social development and cultural integrity for the people of Tibet.”

“We fully support the goals and objectives of Agenda 21 and looks forward to sharing its expertise and perspectives at the world summit,” said Tsering. “We note with approval the inclusive and participatory character of the world summit and respectfully seeks to be accredited to the conference.”

The Summit Secretariat has recommended ICT’s accreditation to the Prepcom II in ECOSOC document E/CN.17/2002/PC.2/16, which lincludes ICT among a list of non-governmental organizations and other major groups recommended for accreditation with the WSSD.

This is not the first time that China has tried to block ICT??s participation at the UN. At last year’s UN World Conference on Racism, China also sought to block ICT’s accreditation and participation. At that UN conference, government delegates rallied behind ICT’s right to participate, and China’s objection was overturned.

“After that,” said Tsering, “ICT was able to make positive contributions in the debate at the racism conference in Durban, South Africa.”

As with the preparatory stages of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), China is trying to block ICT from participating in an international UN conference which has direct relevance to ICT’s sphere of activity.

“ICT’s areas of expertise conform closely to those under the purview of WSSD,” said Tsering. “We have a long and substantial record of activities relating to issues of sustainable development and environment,” Tsering continued.

“Since our inception in 1988, ICT has been concerned with the issue of sustainable development in Tibet. ICT fully concurs with the objectives of WSSD that governments and NGOs ‘focus the world’s attention and direct action toward meeting difficult challenges, including improving people’s lives and conserving our natural resources in a world that is growing in population, with ever-increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.'”

ICT views the World Summit on Sustainable Development as an important international forum to discuss issues of worldwide concern. ICT has devoted substantial resources to monitoring the issues that the WSSD is taking up.

“We believe China is intentionally politicizing the issue by trying to prevent a legitimate organization from participation in the WSSD based on extraneous and unfounded reasons,” said Tsering. “We hope member states and the NGO community will disregard China’s illigitimate opposition and support our accreditation.” The Summit’s second preperatory meeting (Prepcom II) is currently taking place in New York with the actual summit scheduled for August in Johannesburg.

ICT Reacts to China’s Objection

According to diplomatic sources at the UN, the Permanent Mission of China at the UN wrote to heads of all missions in New York on February 2, 2002 asking them to “refrain from proposing the accreditation of ICT to the summit.” In a two-page accompanying “position paper” the Chinese Mission politicizes the issue accusing ICT of “splittist activities” and being closely associated with the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. The position paper concludes, “Based upon the above-mentioned reasons, ICT should not be allowed to participate, in whatever name and under whatever pretext, in any UN activities. Accreditation of such an organization to the WSSD will undermine the cooperative atmosphere, normal proceeding and the ultimate success of the Summit. The Chinese Government urges the Preparatory Committee of WSSD to reject ICT’s application for accreditation and calls for the understanding and support of all Delegations in this regard.”

On February 4, upon learning of the initial Chinese objection, ICT wrote to all the missions in New York explaining how China is politicizing the issue. ICT informed the governments that it is extremely concerned with the “splittist activities” allegation as ICT does not and has not propagated principles contrary to, or in violation of, the charter of the UN.

ICT is an independent organization which monitors and acts to protect the human rights of the Tibetan people and the environment in Tibet. This is fully in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

China claims that ICT supports separatism or “splittism,” which is untrue. ICT supports the right of peoples to self-determination, a principle enshrined in the UN Charter and in the International Covenants of Human Rights. ICT has supported calls for a negotiated and peaceful solution to the situation in Tibet. This too, is entirely in keeping with the objectives of the UN Charter. The Secretary General has been emphasizing the importance of dialogue and the role of NGOs in promoting peace and opposing violence.

ICT concluded its letter to the missons by stating, “We believe China is intentionally politicizing the issue by trying to prevent a legitimate organization from participation in the WSSD based on extraneous reasons. We, therefore, urge you once again to support ICT’s case based on the merit of the case as well as the Durban precedence.”

According to delegates to Prepcom II, the Romanian Ambassador was initially entrusted to undertake an “informal consultation” to resolve the issue of ICT’s accreditation. However, this consultation does not seem to have taken place. In the meantime several governments have approached the UN Secretariat asking for more information on the issue.

Diplomatic sources say ICT’s issue may be taken up either on February 6 or 7, 2002 and that countries may call for a vote if China insists on objecting to ICT’s participation.