PRC Envoy to Human Rights Panel Blasts "Unfair" Treatment of Developing Countries

March 17, 2005

PRC Ambassador to the U.N. Missions in Geneva Sha Zukang criticized the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in a March 14 address, citing the panel for unfair treatment of developing nations. Ambassador Sha also attacked unspecified NGOs for abuse of their consultative status at Commission meetings. The senior Chinese diplomat addressed the Human Rights Commission on behalf of a "like minded group" of developing nations.

Ambassador Sha praised the Commission as the world's foremost human rights forum, but quoted a recent independent panel report to the effect that the Human Rights Commission faces a credibility problem. Sha offered the view that the Commission "cannot be credible if it is seen to be maintaining double standards in addressing human rights concerns." As an example, the PRC envoy said that the U.N. rights panel "has turned into a place of naming and shaming of developing countries, especially with regard to the deliberations under Item 9, whose original intention was to address only situations of massive, flagrant and systematic violations of human rights..."

The statement in the High Level Panel Report that Ambassador Sha quoted, however, was taken out of context. The members of the review panel did not complain about the Commission having a double standard between developed and developing nations, but instead pointed to serious membership problems at the Commission. They wrote: "Standard-setting to reinforce human rights cannot be performed by States that lack a demonstrated commitment to their promotion and protection. We are concerned that in recent years States have sought membership of the Commission not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves against criticism or to criticize others."