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China and the UNDharamshala — The international advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report calling for the Chinese government to "end efforts to weaken United Nations mechanisms that promote human rights."

“China engages with the UN on human rights but often with the goal of aggressively silencing criticism and eroding access for activists who work on China,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

“China is not the only country that acts terribly at the UN, but its Security Council membership, global influence, and fierce crackdown on civil society at home make it a model of bad faith that challenges the integrity of the UN rights system.”

The 96-page document called, The Costs of International Advocacy: China's Interference in United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms, and begins by saying, "China has generally directed its energies in the Council toward shielding itself from human rights scrutiny, opposing country-specific resolutions, and defending concepts such as national sovereignty at the expense of international human rights monitoring."

The report also details "China’s efforts to harass independent activists, primarily those from China. Chinese officials have photographed and filmed activists on UN premises in violation of UN rules, and restricted travel by mainland activists to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. China has also used its membership on the Economic and Social Council’s Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to block NGOs critical of China from being granted UN accreditation, and it has sought – and succeeded in – blacklisting accredited activists from participating in UN events."

HRW reports that Beijing has 'blacklisted' activists, experts as well as NGO’s, and accused Chinese officials of routinely photographing and filming activists on UN premises, in violation of UN rules, and barring Chinese activists from traveling to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

China’s action, the report accused, “amount to what appears to be a systematic attempt to subvert the ability of the UN human rights system to confront abuses in China and beyond," adding that “the whole UN machinery tries to make space for civil society while [China’s] machinery works the other way, trying to shrink space for NGOs.”

Citing one particularly disturbing example, the HRW report states, "authorities in China in 2013 detained activist Cao Shunli after she urged Beijing to consult with Chinese civil society in drafting its report for its UN human rights review, and tried to travel to Geneva to participate in human rights training sessions. After Cao became gravely ill in detention and died, the Chinese delegation in Geneva in March 2014 took the extraordinary step of challenging and blocking a ruling by the Human Rights Council president allowing a moment of silence called for by NGOs."

“The UN system offers one of the few remaining channels for activists from China to share their views and press for improvements in Beijing’s abysmal rights record,” Roth said.

“Unless the UN and concerned governments put a stop to China’s efforts to manipulate or weaken UN human rights mechanisms, the UN’s credibility, and indeed its ability to defend rights in China and around the globe, are at risk,” the director added.

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