The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has become notorious for opposing basic human rights and siding with communist nations and dictatorships since so many of these countries have been allowed a seat on the council.
The latest example of the council’s flippancy toward human rights came this weekend when delegates from Cuba delivered a statement praising China’s adoption of a national security law imposed on Hong Kong. The United Kingdom offered a statement condemning China’s new law. As has come to be expected with the HRC, which allowed China to join its ranks on April 1 of this year, the council overwhelmingly supported Cuba’s statement praising China’s actions toward Hong Kong. In total, 53 countries ended up backing China’s new law while 27 condemned it.
The International Business Times reported that critics of China’s new law “cited harsh penalties for vaguely defined political crimes and claimed it was the death knell for Hong Kong’s autonomy.” Axios obtained a list of the countries that supported or opposed China’s actions:
Supporting: China, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Opposing: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian explained that “Beijing has effectively leveraged the UN Human Rights Council to endorse the very activities it was created to oppose.” Further, the outlet reported, at least 43 of the countries that supported Beijing “have signed onto China’s Belt and Road infrastructure project.” Many of the countries in Africa that praised China’s actions are, according to Axios, “trying to renegotiate debt payments to China amid sharp COVID-related downturns.”
The outlet also explained that countries who have challenged China in the past have paid a price, including Australia and Canada.
“After pushing for an independent probe into China’s initial response to the coronavirus, Australia found itself in a costly trade dispute with its largest trading partner,” Axios reported. “Two Canadian citizens are still being held in China, meanwhile, after Canada arrested Huawei’s CFO on behalf of the U.S.”
IBT explained that many thought the announcement that China was joining the HRC was an April’s Fools Day prank:
Because the council deals with topics like freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary detention, some may have thought this to be an April Fools joke. Unfortunately, it was not, and the appointment has sparked protests by international human rights activists.
The U.S. withdrew from the HRC in June 2018, calling the council “hypocritical and self-serving.”
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