“A state that tries to hold itself above any kind of scrutiny presents a fundamental threat to human rights. That China—a state with extraordinary global power—expects such treatment affects us all”.

On 9 September 2020, The Rights Practice signed a joint letter, along with over 300 organisations, to the UN Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN Member States calling for an international mechanism to address the Chinese government’s human rights violations.

In the letter, organisations highlighted concern at the impact of China’s rights violations world-wide. Signatories expressed dismay at China’s efforts to distort the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council by promoting “cooperation” over accountability, and opposing initiatives to bring scrutiny of serious rights violations and international crimes in countries around the world.

On 13 October 2020, China was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council. China received 139 votes, a 20% decrease since the last election in 2016 and the lowest number of votes in the Asia Pacific group. UN member states that sit on the Council, including the UK, have an obligation to ensure that China complies with international human rights standards and does not undermine the Council’s role.

A representative for Germany delivered a statement to the UN Human Rights Council on 6 October, on behalf of 39 countries including the UK. The countries expressed grave concern about the human rights situation in China, in particular in Xinjiang and recent developments in Hong Kong. They urged China to urgently implement the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommendations on Xinjiang.

It is promising that the international community is increasingly speaking out against human rights abuses in China but this must also translate into further action. Action includes funding initiatives that support groups and individuals that are working to monitor and challenge impunity in Xinjiang.