Civil Society Deeply Concerned by Removal of Key Stakeholder
Information by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights for Upcoming Universal Periodic Review of China
November 5, 2018
We, the undersigned, express deep concern over the removal of valuable stakeholder
information by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for
consideration by UN members states ahead of the 3 rd Cycle Universal Periodic
Review (UPR) of the People’s Republic of China.
The UPR process, undertaken through the UN Human Rights Council, explicitly
welcomes constructive contributions from civil society to address human rights
challenges and promote universal human rights norms. All of the undersigned groups
submitted reports through the OHCHR’s online platform before the deadline of March
29, 2018 as individual organizations or as joint submissions to be considered by states
in the preparation of their recommendations, and by the OHCHR in its official
summary of information from civil society.
We are, however, dismayed by the fact that at least seven submissions were
completely removed from consideration from the final document intended for UN
member states to draft recommendations for China’s review.
The OHCHR – tasked with compiling stakeholder information into a summary
document – initially released a Stakeholder Summary dated September 3, 2018. The
document listed 85 individual submissions including from the Tibetan Centre for
Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) and Demosistō as well as 42 joint
submissions including from the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
(UNPO) and Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC);
another that included the UNPO and several Tibet groups; and another submission
from Hong-Kong-based groups that also included Demosistō.
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) was provided only passing mention in two
citations at the end of the document and the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP)
was cited within the text of the original document, though both were not listed as
Shortly after the first Stakeholder Summary was posted, however, it was removed
from the OHCHR’s website for several weeks. Citing “technical reasons”, on October
16 the OHCHR re-issued an updated version of the report (version dated October 10).
However, this version incorporates critical changes that do not appear to be technical
in nature. The updated document removed citations of reports from TCHRD and
Demosistō as well as three separate joint submissions (noted above), and removed all
references to reports from the WUC and UHRP.The concerned organizations reached out individually to the OHCHR with concerns
from October 22-26; in response, OHCHR officials wrote: “As a subsidiary body of
the United Nations General Assembly, the HRC and the UPR Working Group (UPR
WG), must adhere to the official United Nations position and terminology as reflected
in relevant General Assembly resolutions and within the context of the UN Charter,
and therefore, must respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of
the State concerned.” Further requests to explain in greater detail specific issues with
the seven reports went unanswered.
The OHCHR did, however belatedly, issue a Corrigendum document on November 2,
including previously removed citations of reports by TCHRD, UHRP, WUC and a
joint submission by UNPO and SMHRIC, we remain deeply concerned about the
exclusion of stakeholder information in the first place. Furthermore, an individual
submission from Demosistō as well as a joint submission focusing on Tibet continue
to be left out of all OHCHR documentation for the review. Since the statements and
recommendations of delegations participating in the review are drafted weeks in
advance, withholding NGO inputs until less than two working days before the review,
effectively precludes these inputs from being considered by participating States.
The undersigned organizations all provided relevant information adhering closely to
UN principles and those set out by the OHCHR. All of the aforementioned reports
detailed the situation on the ground for particular groups within China and were
structured to support efforts for reforms necessary to improve the human rights
conditions and the implementation of previous UPR recommendations.
While we recognise the indispensable work performed by the OHCHR around the
world working on critical issues and facilitating participation and inputs from various
groups, we remain very concerned that the removal of these reports gives further
credence to well-documented NGO concerns of China’s growing influence within the
UN human rights system, and the deliberate silencing of critical voices.
As NGOs, we look to the OHCHR to facilitate civil society participation in the UPR
process. Any differential treatment or interpretation of processes, criteria or NGO
engagement by the OHCHR in the context of reviews of China should be justified
promptly and openly.
The process concerns in this case raise important questions for OHCHR to answer:
Why were the NGO inputs excluded in the first place?
Why, given that the NGO inputs were available since March 2018, did it take
until November for the Office to accept them and issue a Corrigendum?
What specific concerns have led to the submission from Demosistō and the
joint submission on Tibet still being excluded, and why have these concerns
not been communicated to the NGOs in question?
Did the delegation or government of China object to the reports or the NGOs
which submitted them?The undersigned organizations therefore call for greater transparency within the UPR
stakeholder compilation process including:
1. Prompt notification of exclusion from UPR, Treaty Body or other human
2. Explanation of terminology used to exclude stakeholder information,
including, but not limited to, what constitutes ‘politicised’ information or fails
to respect ‘national sovereignty and territorial integrity.’
3. Providing NGOs clear justifications for any concerns, sufficient advance
notice, and an opportunity to address any concerns so that their inputs can be
duly reflected in the summary of stakeholder submissions.
List of Signatories:
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty
Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD)
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)
Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP)
World Uyghur Congress (WUC)
For press inquiries, please contact:
Joshua Wong, Secretary-General, Demosistō: email@example.com
Sophie Richardson, China Director, Human Rights Watch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Brooks, Programme Manager, International Service for Human Rights:
Enghebatu Togochog, Director, Southern Mongolian Human Rights
Information Center: email@example.com
Laura Harth, Representative to UN Institutions, Nonviolent Radical Party,
Transnational and Transparty: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tsering Tsomo, Director, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy:
Lucia Parrucci, Advocacy Office, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples
Omer Kanat, Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project: email@example.com
Peter Irwin, Program Manager, World Uyghur Congress: