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(Source: ISHR)

Resource Profile: China and the UN Treaty Body System

The International Service for Human Rights, a non-profit organization promoting and protecting human rights, released a briefing paper on January 25, 2023 which outlines China’s tactics to influence the UN human rights treaty bodies (UNTBs), including efforts by Chinese officials to disrupt, limit and undermine the work of the UNTBs.

The paper titled China and the UN Treaty Body System is the third in a series of papers published by ISHR on China’s growing influence on UN human rights bodies and mechanisms. The first paper published in 2020 and titled Feeling for stones: how China found its footing at the UN’s Human Rights Council was a chapter in the Amnesty International compilation Shifting Power and Human Rights Diplomacy. China. The second in 2021 mapped Chinese presence in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and its subsidiary bodies and agencies.

The 10 UNTBs are: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR); Human Rights Committee (CCPR); Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Committee against Torture (CAT); Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC); Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW); Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT); Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); and Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED).

Here is an excerpt from the paper’s executive summary:

“Chinese official statements and positions at the UN in Geneva and New York reveal a concerted effort to limit the powers of the treaty bodies, to exercise strict control over their members’ activities and those of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which plays the role of Secretariat.”

“This paper also looks at efforts by Chinese representatives to restrict, control, and censor independent civil society engagement with the UNTBs.”

“Simultaneously, Chinese authorities have discreetly but robustly supported the participation of GONGOs (Government NGOs). These groups actively promote China’s supposed human rights achievements and work hand-in-glove with official Chinese discourse. Their participation undermines the credibility of UNTB review processes, reduces the time and space available for independent groups, and creates a chilling effect that deters independent NGOs and activists from directly engaging.”

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China and the UN Treaty Body System