UN logoThe People’s Republic of China was today elected to the UN’s new Human Rights Council despite calls from human rights organizations, including ICT, for UN member states to reject China’s candidacy. China obtained 146 of a possible 191 votes, placing it as the eighth Asian state to be elected. Altogether 18 countries contested for the 13 seats for Asia.

Commenting on the vote, Ms Tsering Jampa, Executive Director of ICT Europe said, “We are of course disappointed to see that so many member states have turned a blind eye to China’s human rights violations in Tibet. But China’s election on to the Council also comes with obligations and ICT will continue to ensure that China does not get a free ride at the UN. We are already looking ahead to the Universal Review that China must undergo as a Council member.”

The elections, which took place by secret-ballot at the UN General Assembly in New York, determine the inaugural members of the new Council, which will meet for the first time in Geneva, Switzerland on 19 June 2006.

In April, the International Campaign for Tibet stated that China had yet to “deliver a compelling reason for any UN member to overlook China’s abysmal human rights record and vote for China at the new UN Human Rights Council”.

ICT and other NGOs, as well as governments, have consistently documented human rights abuses against Tibetans under Chinese rule and the UN has frequently acted upon these reports, calling on China to cooperate with the UN or halt the violations. Yet China has generally ignored UN criticism of the country’s human rights record.

In recent days, Human Rights Watch and the Geneva-based UN monitor UN Watch both warned UN member states specifically against China’s candidacy, arguing that abusers of human rights such as China were unfit to sit on the Council.

Comparing the candidacy of eleven of the Asian states seeking election to the new Council, the NGO Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) found that “Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia and China rank as the bottom four among the eleven Asian candidates, with the lowest number of specific commitments they have made in their pledges…In particular, China has obtained a full house score of zero on this matter.”

“When the pledges are stripped of the rhetoric and we look at the actual commitments that have been made, it becomes clear that there are four main commonalities between the Asian candidates – they are adverse to vigilant human rights mechanisms, non-governmental organisations, scrutiny of their human rights record, and are disinterested in establishing a regional human rights mechanism”, stated Anselmo Lee, Executive Director of Forum-Asia.