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When human rights are at stake, why is silence the standard approach?: NGOs question UNHRC response

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FORUM-ASIA, along with five other NGOs, presented a statement on the Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, on 25 March at the 7th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The statement expressed "deep regret" at China's failure to achieve the Four Pillars of the Teheran Framework and its lack of commitment to establish national human rights mechanisms, and said they would not tolerate human rights violations against Tibetans.

7th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Item 8: Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and
Programme of Action – General Debate

Joint Statement delivered by Mr. Ngawang Choephel on behalf of:

Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Centre for Organization Research & Education (CORE)
Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples (MRAP)

Thank you, Mr. President.
While we acknowledge the High Commissioner’s report (A/HRC/7/35), which contains the conclusion of the 14th Annual Workshop on the Framework of Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region, we deeply regret the slow pace at which progress has been made towards the establishment of a regional human rights mechanism in Asia, considering growing concerns regarding the human rights situation in the region.

In this respect, China is one of the many Asian countries where no significant progress has been achieved in terms of the Four Pillars of the Teheran Framework. As such, we remain concerned about China’s lack of national human rights action plans, as neither an independent national human rights institution1 nor a plan on human rights education have been declared or initiated. In light of the commitments of all member States to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, today we launch our strongest condemnation on the acts of “merciless repression” which are taking place in the “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)” and other Tibetan areas in present-day China.
Mr. President, we should not tolerate any longer the ongoing human rights violations against the Tibetan people. It is reported that since 10 March over 140 Tibetans have been killed including a 16-year-old girl named Lhundup Tso2  and a 17-year-old boy named Norbu3. There have been widespread reports of mass abductions, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances since the protests began. Taking note that the Chinese authorities have failed to engage in any substantive negotiations with the Dalai Lama for nearly 20 years, it is imperative that in the absence of bilateral solutions the Council take urgent measures and convene a special session to address this urgent situation now.

Shouldering its responsibilities and Membership commitments, and the United Nations’ 2005 World Summit Declaration, which stipulates the responsibility to protect the human rights of populations when individual states fail to do so, we urge the Council to swiftly call upon the Chinese authorities to receive a joint mission of Special Procedures mandate-holders as requested on 17 March by the 65 NGOs signatory to our letter to you, Mr. President and the Members of this Council.

Mr. President,

The challenge of the Tibetans before this Council raises specific questions related to the commitment made by all the Members of this body:

  • Firstly, when human rights are at stake, why is silence the standard approach?
  • Secondly, amidst the criticism from states for a UN institution free from double standards, selectivity and politicization, why now on Tibet do these double-standards and selectivity still apply? 
  • Thirdly, why is this Council supporting a “culture of impunity” when the UN itself considers combating impunity to be of paramount importance in ensuring the scrutiny of human rights violations?

I thank you, Mr. President.


1 The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) recommended on 13 May 2005 that China “adopt a national human rights plan of action, and report back in its next periodic report on how the plan promotes and protects economic, social and cultural rights in the State party. In this connection, the Committee recommends that the State party consider establishing a national commission for human rights on the basis of the Paris Principles.” –
2 Please see:
3 Please see: