2013 Human Rights Council elections – United Nations, New York

Filed in UN advocacy by on November 28, 2013 0 Comments

The Campaign

HRC election

In November 2013, China stood as a candidate in the Asia region for the United Nations Human Rights Council. As a coalition, we saw this as an opportunity to call into question China’s presumed legitimacy for the council, and urge that Tibet be seen as a litmus test in future for how China is performing vis a vis human rights. Online campaigning organisation Avaaz backed the Tibet Coalition by launching a global signature campaign and sending Iona Liddell of Tibet Justice Center and Padma Dolma of Students for a Free Tibet to New York to lobby UN member states. With five countries running for four seats in the Asia region, a loss for China was remote, but not unthinkable. Jordan pulling out of the running in election week made China’s re-election inevitable. We continued to lobby states to withhold their vote or vote ‘no’ in order to send China a strong message that it needs to improve its human rights record before gaining the legitimacy of a high vote count. 1 million people around the world signed the Avaaz petition, calling for UN member states to stand up for Tibet.


The election

At the election, China won 176 of the votes, coming a respectable second in its region. The UN members states had chosen to overlook General Assembly resolution 60/251 which states that when electing states to the Human Rights Council, UN member states should take into account a states’ commitment to promoting and protecting human rights” and voted a human rights violator onto the Council. 1 million people around the world who signed the petition knew this was wrong. They knew the UN Human Rights Council should be a place to stand up for Tibet.

Looking forwards

As a lobby coalition, we had made contacts, strengthened our position and know that in our future UN work, we now have the opportunity to hold every UN member state responsible for holding China accountable for its actions, as a newly-elected member of the Human Rights Council.