The International Campaign for Tibet applauds the U.S. Administration’s announcement today that it would sponsor a resolution to censure China’s human rights record at the 56th United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

“The U.S. made the right decision to hold China accountable for deteriorating human rights conditions,” said John Ackerly, President of International Campaign for Tibet. “However, the real test will be in how hard the U.S. works to pass the resolution — otherwise today’s announcement is just a gratuitous political gesture,” Mr. Ackerly stated.

The State Department today said that “over the last year, the government of China intensified control on unregistered churches and on the political and religious expression of ethnic minority groups, especially Tibetans.” In announcing the decision, State Department spokesman James Rubin cited the flight of the 14-year-old Karmapa and expressed concern about the arrest of two monks at Tsurphu Monastery, now the Karmapa’s former home. Rubin also reiterated the Administration’s call on China to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Within a month, the Sate Department is expected to release its annual human rights report detailing the deterioration of abuses in China and in its separate section for Tibetan areas.

The success of this year’s resolution hinges on support from European and other countries. Though the EU and many European countries have raised the question of human rights violations in Tibet with Chinese authorities individually over the last few years, no substantial results have been achieved.

“Time and time again the Chinese government has shown that it doesn’t take European concerns on human rights seriously and is only interested in economic benefits,” said Tsering Jampa, Director of ICT’s office in Amsterdam. “Lacking a central foreign policy, European countries are often played against one another by China offering economic benefits to those who do not support human rights resolutions. Therefore, European countries should join the U.S. in a resolution to send a clear, unified message to Beijing” Ms. Jampa added.

The United Nations is an important platform for China, and China has mounted enormous efforts to avoid being scrutinized and censured in Geneva. The Commission is made up of 53 member countries. Last year, the Commission voted 22-17, with 14 abstentions, against a China resolution. In 1998, the U.S. did not support a resolution, citing alleged improvements in China’s human rights record.

“Hesitation by European countries to support the resolution could have an irreparable effect of strengthening a belief in China that it can ignore international concern for systematic human rights abuses,” Ms. Jampa said.