A group of Republican senators sent a letter in opposition to the appointment of China to a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) panel yesterday. This move is just the latest example of the fecklessness of the United Nations.
Last week, Jiang Duan, minister at the Chinese Mission in Geneva was appointed to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group. This panel isn’t just an ordinary one, it picks the human rights investigators of the world — including global monitors on freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention. The UNHRC Consultative Group is comprised of only five nations. China will chair the interview processes and help vet candidates for the UN human rights posts.
This is crazy. At the very time that China is being held accountable for the spread of a coronavirus pandemic, it is rewarded with a seat of power at the United Nations. China routinely silences its people, brutally punishes any divergence from the Communist Party line, restricts religious freedom, and denies its people access to the free world by censoring access to the internet. Now, China is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people due to a lack of transparency about the coronavirus which began in Wuhan. China continues to lie, most recently this week claiming that there are no more deaths due to the coronavirus.
The executive director of UN Watch spoke out about this travesty of human rights.
“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization based in Geneva that closely monitors the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council, and a leader in speaking out at the UN for victims in China.
“It’s absurd and immoral for the UN to allow China’s oppressive government a key role in selecting officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide,” said Neuer.
No joke: #China joins U.N. Human Rights Council panel, where it will help select the U.N.'s next world monitors on freedom of speech, enforced disappearances & arbitrary detention—and on health. That's like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief. https://t.co/DqFY90rd6I
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) April 3, 2020
During its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, China silenced doctors, journalists, and anyone else that dared to question the Communist Party narrative. And now China will be a part of choosing human rights investigators? China will be involved in choosing the UN Special Rapporteur in charge of protecting freedom of opinion and expression. Is it any wonder that the United Nations is considered ineffective and useless by many Americans?
Seven Republican senators signed a letter of protest to China’s appointment, sent to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Senators Cornyn, Cruz, Inhofe, Rubio, McSally, Kevin Cramer, and Marsha Blackburn all signed on. The irony of appointing China to the panel in the midst of “egregious human rights abuses” during the pandemic is noted.
“In this position, Jiang will provide China with the opportunity to play a central role in picking at least 17 human rights investigators, including those who look at freedom of speech, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention, rights abuses which the Chinese regime routinely perpetrates.
“The Chinese government’s decision to deceive the international community about the grave dangers of the initial 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, China, violates any credibility on human rights and should disqualify them from a position on the Human Rights Council Consultative Group. Through intimidation of its medical first responders, censorship of online forums, and threats of severe punishment for anyone who dared to speak out with the truth, the Chinese Communist Party engaged in its most egregious human rights abuse: the unchecked spread of a new and dangerous virus on an unwitting global population. Chinese government actions in the early days of the outbreak are not commensurate to influencing a council responsible for upholding human rights throughout the world. Even now, China withholds critical information about the spread and death toll of the virus and continues to silence and intimidate its critics.”
As President Trump said, “It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started.” “And certainly the world is paying a big price for what they did.” As Nikki Haley tweeted, “You can’t make this up!”
China was appointed on Wed to a UN Human Rights Council panel where it will play a key role in picking the world body’s human rights investigators — including global monitors on freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances, & arbitrary detention.
🤦🏽♀️You can’t make this up! https://t.co/fULmWtfFSZ
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 4, 2020
The Consultative Group oversees issues of freedom in the most oppressive of countries, yet China escapes criticism by the UNHRC and even rises in power, especially since President Trump – to his credit – withdrew the United States from the UNHRC in June 2018. Rep. Chris Smith, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and ranking member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China condemned Jiang Duan’s appointment.
The panel consists of five ambassadors, each representing the five UN regional groups, and facilitates the appointment of experts on issues of freedom of speech and religion; water and sanitation; housing; food; health; poverty; and conditions in countries such as Cambodia, Iran, Myanmar, and North Korea.
“There is no justification whatsoever in empowering a Chinese government official, Jiang Duan, to investigate human rights abuses until there is a reckoning with regard to China’s own record,” Smith said.
The United Nations Human Rights Council is a joke. It isn’t only China that has no place in determining human rights violations, either. The UNHRC awarded seats to Venezuela, Mauritania, and Sudan earlier this year. In the past, Cuba and Saudi Arabia have been seated, too. All the while the only country that regularly receives criticism from the UNHRC is the only democracy in the Middle East – Israel. As Nikki Haley said, you can’t make it up.