Challenging China on its economic, social and cultural rights violations

Filed in Featured Article by on May 2, 2014

TJC and the Tibet Lobby team engage the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights over Tibet.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and in force from 3 January 1976. It commits the countries who have signed and ratified it to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to their citizens, including the right to participation in cultural rights, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to education. China is fully signed up to this treaty, along with 161 other states. This means China is obligated to provide its citizens their economic, social and cultural rights. On May 8 2014, China’s progress in this will be monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a board of 18 independent experts who monitor each state’s implementation of the Covenant. They start by gathering information and evidence from civil society and international NGOs, before asking the State under review questions related to alleged violations of related rights, based on the information given to them. The State will respond in writing and then the Committee and the State will meet face to face at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss further. At this point, the Committee will ask for further evidence/information from the NGOs, to help them make concrete recommendations to the State under Review as to how it should improve its performance on allowing its citizens the full range of economic, social and cultural rights.

Tibet Justice Center, along with the Boston University School of Law’s Human Rights Department, submitted evidence in April 2013 to the Committee. We also attended a pre-sessional working group meeting, where we were able to speak with the Committee and make suggestions to them for questions to ask China. We were happy to see them raise a number of strong questions on Tibet, including on being able to have cultural rights, and on the non-voluntary resettlement of Tibetan nomads and rural residents. You can view our original submission here –

China has responded in writing to these questions and next week will meet with the Committee face to face. Tibet Justice Center and the Boston University School of Law will be back in Geneva again to give more evidence to the Committee in advance of their China meeting. This time we will be joined by other members of the Tibet Lobby Coalition. International Tibet Network already joined us to submit new written evidence last month, and Students for a Free Tibet will join the team on the ground next week. We will all meet with the Committee members to present our evidence in person and to urge that the Committee’s recommendations must include  the need to address the violations of the rights such as the right to cultural life, right to education, right to health, and right to an adequate standard of living in Tibet.

You can see our latest submission here –

When this independent expert Committee makes their recommendations, a month or so from the review, we can raise them with our own governments when asking them to engage China bilaterally and multilaterally on the human rights crisis in Tibet.

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