Featured Image: Khotan (Hotan / Hetian) is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Uyghur people at sunday market. By Colegota, CC BY-SA 2.5 ES <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/es/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.
On the final day in office, 31 August 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented the long-awaited report on the violations of the human rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim populations of the province of Xinjiang. The 46-page Report highlights massive detention in camps, torture, sexual violence against women, restriction of religious practices, forced sterilization of women and separation of families. Many of the facts in the U.N. Report had already been set out by non-governmental human rights organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and in newspaper reports.
Michelle Bachelet (2018). By Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
Influence on NGO positions.
The possible strong impact of the Report will depend in large measure on what pressure NGOs will be able to develop on the Chinese authorities. Chinese government influence within the U.N. Secretariat has been growing. Chinese diplomatic pressure on government diplomats within the U.N., always active, has also been growing in part linked to trade and debt consideration. While Chinese diplomats watch the representatives of NGOs closely during meetings of the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. human rights bodies, the Chinese diplomats have little influence on NGO positions.
NGOs have developed close links with scholars working on Chinese policies and with a number of research institutes and “think tanks”. Some of the same NGOs representatives, such as those of the Association of World Citizens, had earlier been involved with the human rights of Tibetans, often facing the same type of repression and efforts at “re-education”. The Chinese diplomats at the U.N. have grown in sophistication and must not be underestimated.
However, with the U.N. Report in hand, objective and based on a wide range of observations and interviews, NGOs have a clear avenue for action. Although the armed conflict in Ukraine and tensions concerning Taiwan draw attention of governments and NGOs, the Uyghur issues are a test for NGO effectiveness and should be watched closely.
Sakya Monastery, Tibet. Sakya Monastery was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo and is situated about 130 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons.
René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.