GENEVA, June 18, 2020 — China took the floor at the U.N. Human Rights Council today to lash out at what it called “ungrounded attacks” by a human rights group that criticized Beijing’s new role on a UNHRC panel that will select 17 human rights experts this year.
China exercised its right of reply (see full text below) after Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based independent human rights group that monitors the United Nations, questioned the ability of the world body to credibly investigate racism and police brutality.
The Chinese delegate complained about Neuer “abusing the forum to level unwanted attacks against sovereign states,” and said he hoped that “this forum will not become a forum to abuse human rights.”
Following is testimony delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer before the United Nations Human Rights Council, in its debate on June 8, 2020:
Madam Chair, UN Watch condemns the killing of George Floyd, and stands with all victims of racism and police brutality.
The question today is: In combating the disease of racism, should we be turning to the United Nations?
Certainly the UN made a great contribution in 1946, when, in the aftermath of the Nazi atrocities, Eleanor Roosevelt, René Cassin, and other eminent figures gave the world the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Certainly this was true in 1948, when the UN adopted the Convention Against Genocide.
And certainly this was true in 1965, when the UN adopted the Convention Against Racial Discrimination. It was drafted by civil rights leader Morris Abram, the founder of our organization, who served on the UN sub-commission against discrimination.
But is it still true today?
Speakers here invoked the UN’s Durban Declaration on Racism, and its 2009 conference, which was held in this room. I was here.
UN Watch organized rallies with black African victims of the genocide in Darfur. Yet the UN and its Durban Conference refused to help them.
Instead, in this room, the world’s most notorious Holocaust denier, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who also advocated genocide, was the opening speaker.
Qaddafi’s Libya, which brutalized black migrants, portraying them as dealers of drugs and alcohol, was Chair of the Preparatory Committee.
Madam Chair, is the UN’s Durban process really part of the cure?
And is this UN Human Rights Council qualified to investigate racism and police brutality?
Let us consider who the prosecutors and the judges will be — the members of the council.
One is Mauritania, which has up to 500,000 black slaves. The leading anti-slavery activist, Biram Dah Abeid, was put in jail. And yet Mauritania was just elected as a member.
Another is Venezuela. They spoke here of police brutality. It’s a subject on which they have great expertise. In only five days last year, the Maduro government killed 47 protesters, and arbitrarily detained 900 people.
And who chooses the council’s experts? For reasons unclear, the representative of China was just appointed, and will now play a central role in selecting 17 UN human rights experts this year.
This is the same government that has locked up 1 million Muslims in camps. Amazingly, last summer, 50 ambassadors from this UN Human Rights Council submitted a letter praising China for this action.
China just chaired the process of selecting the UN expert on freedom of speech, yet when courageous Chinese men and women tried to sound the alarm about the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, they were arrested, silenced, and disappeared
If we seek a real cure for the disease of discrimination, we need to find doctors who can promise, first, to do no harm.
CHINA EXERCISES RIGHT OF REPLY
Today our urgent discussion focuses on the combat against police brutality. And regrettably the NGO abused this item to level ungrounded attacks to China. A lot of content in his speech has nothing to do with the major theme of our discussion today.
Concerning this practice of abusing the forum to level unwanted attacks against sovereign states, we strongly oppose this practice. We do not hope that this forum will become a forum to abuse human rights.