How Did China Get on the UN Human Rights Commission?

A little while ago there was a news story about the U.S. being kicked off the UN Commmission on Human Rights (here is one example of the story I found online). As you can see, there are alot of other members on this commission with questionable commitments to human rights, like Syria and Libya. But the focus of my question is China.

How did China ever get allowed on a commission for human rights with its human rights record? Also, another thing that makes me wonder, on this commission, what exactly is China voting record on things like torture and democratic rights?


Four years is “a little while ago?”

I think the answer to the Syria thing was that membership on this commission rotates, and I suspect that’s the answer to your question too.

Actually, I think its chosen by voting.

Maybe I was thinking of the chairship, since I think Syria did chair the HRC for a time. I’m not sure.

IIRC it is done by voting in geographical blocks.

The whole thing is a farce anyways. China, Syria, Zimbabwe, and Sudan are even asked, much less deciding on the world’s human rights issues?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

Pjen, the date of the article when the United States was thrown off was May 3, 2001, well before September 11 and Guantanamo was even a thought and only 34 days after Bush became President. I really don’t want to make this about Clinton, but the question still has to be asked: what the hell happened during the Clinton administration (or the previous Bush or Reagan administrations) that made it happen then, and what did China do to merit selection?

Astronomically speaking, yes.

That’s more like 3 months. :wink: And the article does note that "some diplomats said they believed the Bush administration’s opposition to the Kyoto climate change treaty as well as its insistence on a missile defense contributed to the loss. "

From the story, Pjen appears to be correct about the geographical blocks.

My reply was not to do with the USA being kicked off the committee- it is, after all, merely a regional popularity contest, and often the USA is not very popular with its American neighbors. Also, it is not a competition to find the most lily-white representative; it is a competition to decide which country will represent that region for the next session of the committee. An element of ‘Buggins Turn’ comes in here and there is no way that the USA could expect to always be on this committee. That’s democracy!

The Guantanamo reference was a simple reminder that for all the complaints about other countries, the record of the USA is not unblemished.

January 20-31
February 1-28
May 1-3

11+28+3=42 days. Oops. Anyway, that’s not even close to two months, let alone three.

And what Kyoto, which is a fine idea but a bullshit implementation, and a missile defense system have to do with basic human rights is beyond me. That’s not to mention that Kyoto was rejected by the Congress a long time prior to May 2001.

Sounds about right.

Now, four years later, you would be able to justify it. But not then, and you certainly can’t justify the inclusion of China in that group.

Pssst… they have these new months called March and April now… :slight_smile:

Wow. What a dumbass. Mea culpa. March, May, they both start with M. Close enough. Oh well, it’s not the dumbest thing I’ve ever said.

No, these are called ‘Hanging Months’: if not fully recognized by neo-cons they can be disregarded if they get in the way of the desired result. I think the Supreme Court would uphold this. :smiley:

We’ve got Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. China has Tianamen Square. Sudan has Darfur. Zimbabwe has starvation politics and the arrest and murder of opposition leaders and workers.

So why should any of us have any right to tell the rest of the world how to act?

Because we’re Americans, dammit!

(I’d add a :wink: , except there really are people who believe this to be a valid response.)

To expand upon Pjen’s answer, if a geographical grouping submits a slate with as many countries as it has slots on the UNHRC, there is no vote. The slate of countries is accepted by acclimation. If there are more countries on a slate than slots for commission members, then there is a vote; the top vote getters get seats. At no point is there any review of a country’s human rights record.

In the past, human rights abusers have basically gamed the system so that groups like the G-77 (the poorest countries in the world, which generally have low regard for human rights) will only nominate countries that will shield them from being accused of human rights abuses. China scratches cuba’s back, which scratches Sudan’s, which scratches Zimbabwe’s, which scratches China’s… and so on.

Kofi Annan has proposed radical changes to the UNHRC, replacing it with a council that has members that are held to strict standards. Cite. Which is pretty much what I proposed last year, to which some folks were shocked and offended that the members of a UN human rights commission would be held accountable to some sort of standards for respecting human rights.