The United Nations Preparatory Committee (Prepcom) for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) decided to exclude the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) by a vote of 90 in favor of no action to 37 against, with 10 abstentions on May 31, 2002. China proposed the no-action motion.

Reacting to the development, Tsewang Lhadon, the Executive Director of TCHRD, said, “All we are asking for is the right to participate in a conference. China is so desperate to stop any critical discussion of Tibet in the international arena that it stoops to procedural means to stifle debate. Supporting a no-action motion undermines the basic principles of democracy and freedom of expression.”

In a press statement on May 31, 2002 from Bali, Indonesia, the United Nations said, “When the Committee took up accreditation of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, it had before it a letter from the Permanent Representative of China (see document A/CONF.199/PC/19). The letter sets out China’s firm objection to accreditation of the NGO to the World Summit and its preparatory process, because it was “a separatist organization that is same in nature as ‘International Campaign for Tibet’ and ‘Tibet Justice Center’ whose applications for accreditation were resolutely rejected’ by the Preparatory Committee.

“At the outset of the Committee’s consideration, the representative of the United States said it was his position that legitimate NGOs, such as the one in question, applying for accreditation could and should be approved. All well-established and widely recognized NGOs could make positive contributions to the Summit. The NGO in question was well qualified to be accredited and to participate. He proposed that the plenary grant the request for accreditation.

“The representative of Spain, for the European Union and associated States, then said the Union welcomed the participation of NGOs and other major groups at the Summit. They had an important part to play in the discussions. A large number would be present at Johannesburg representing a broad range of different views that would help lead to a fruitful exchange of views. The Union believed that the NGO in question should be able to participate in Johannesburg and he supported its accreditation. This didn’t mean it supported its views, however. The Union supported the call for a vote just made by the United States delegation.

“The representative of China next reaffirmed his delegation’s objection to the accreditation of the NGO in question. He moved to take “no action” on the proposal of the United States and requested an immediate vote by roll call. The Chinese government had consistently supported participation in the Summit of NGOs operating in the spirit of the United Nations Charter. The NGO in question was a political organization, which had the aim of splitting China’s territory. It had never carried out any activities to help the socio-economic situation of Tibet, he noted. He strongly appealed to vote yes to China’s no action motion and reject the NGO’s application for accreditation.

“Following China’s request, both Pakistan and Cuba spoke in favor of the motion. The United States and Spain, for the European Union, spoke against the motion.”

The Summit and its related Global Forum (NGOs) will take place in Johannesburg in South Africa from August 19 to September 4, 2002.