China, Cuba Keep Seats on UN Human Rights Council Despite Records of Committing Human Rights Abuses

Frank Fang
By Frank Fang
October 13, 2023International

China and Cuba, two communist regimes with poor human rights records, were reelected to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Oct. 10, drawing condemnation from rights groups, activists, and U.S. politicians.

Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said China’s successful reelection bid at the Geneva, Switzerland-based human rights body demonstrated “how flawed the council is,” in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Oct. 10.

“It only joined to block criticism of its human rights abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans, and others,” Mr. Risch said.

“The UN Human Rights Council is a farce,” Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a 2024 presidential candidate, wrote on X on the same day. “I saw it as ambassador firsthand & today is further proof. China & Cuba are human rights abusers, & today they won reelection to an entity that’s supposed to protect human rights.

“The UNHRC is a sham. It is not worthy of its name.”


The U.N. General Assembly held a secret ballot vote on Oct. 10, filling 15 seats to the 47-member Human Rights Council. The seats are distributed among five regional groups: African states, Asia-Pacific states, Eastern European states, Latin American and Caribbean states, and Western European and other states.

In the Asia-Pacific group, four nations vied for four vacant seats. Indonesia secured the most votes with 186, followed by Kuwait with 183 votes, Japan with 175, and China in last place with 154. In 2020, China picked up 139 votes, finishing fourth in a five-nation race to fill four vacant seats on the council.

Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Peru vied for three vacant seats in the Latin America and Caribbean group. Cuba secured the most votes with 146, while Peru lost its bid to join the council.

The top two vote-getters in the Eastern Europe group, Albania and Bulgaria, defeated Russia to fill two vacant seats. Russia was suspended from the council after a U.N. General Assembly vote in April 2022 following reports allegedly that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine.

Newly elected member states will start serving their three-year terms beginning on Jan. 1, 2024.

During a press briefing on Oct. 11, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said Beijing’s successful bid to keep its seat on the council was an indication that the internal community “highly recognized how China has played an important role in human rights development.”

“Can you believe that both Communist #China & Communist #Cuba were elected to the @UNHumanRights Council?” Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.) asked in an Oct. 10 post on X.

“Two of the world’s most vehement Human Rights violators who systematically oppress their people. Disturbing and shameful!”


Before the vote on Oct. 10, more than 80 human rights groups issued a joint statement urging the U.N. member states to not vote for China.

“The Chinese government has used its power and influence to attempt to silence the voice of civil society at the UN,” the groups stated. “The UN Secretary-General has recognized China as engaging in ‘patterns of intimidation and reprisals’ against human rights defenders and remains one of the top perpetrators of reprisals globally.”

The groups highlighted the Chinese regime’s “widespread, systematic persecution” of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in East Turkistan, the “escalation of human rights abuses” in Tibet in the past year, arrests and detentions in Hong Kong under its national security law, and increasingly severe targeting of human rights defenders and rights lawyers in China.

“Over 40 UN experts have also called for ‘decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms’ in China and called on the Human Rights Council ‘to act with a sense of urgency’ to address human rights violations,” the group stated.

“We therefore urge UN Member States at the General Assembly not to vote for China and to leave an empty seat.”

In June 2021, a dozen human rights experts affiliated with the U.N. noted how they were “extremely alarmed by reports of alleged ‘organ harvesting’ targeting minorities, including Falun Gong practitioners, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Muslims, and Christians, in detention in China.” Two years earlier, the London-based China Tribunal concluded that forced organ harvesting had taken place in China for years and “on a significant scale,” with Falun Gong practitioners being the main source of human organs.

Falun Gong, a spiritual practice, consists of meditative exercises and moral teachings. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been persecuting Falun Gong practitioners since 1999, subjecting them to abuses and torture inside prisons, labor camps, and other facilities in China.

The New York-based Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) issued a statement criticizing countries that voted for China on Oct. 10.

“Today, Tibet is ranked as the least free place on Earth,” SFT Executive Director Pema Doma said. “The 154 countries that voted in favour of China at the election today should be ashamed. These countries are precisely the reason why more and more young people lose faith in the effectiveness of the United Nations.

“But there is an undeniably growing consensus that [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping’s brutal assault on human rights and freedom for billions of Tibetans, Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians, and Chinese cannot, and must not, go unchallenged.”


Under the Trump administration, the United States withdrew from the council in June 2018, noting that some of the worst human rights abusers—China, Cuba, and Venezuela—were council members.

The Biden administration reversed the withdrawal and the United States officially returned to the council in October 2021 after receiving 168 votes in an election for a three-year term.After China and Cuba were reelected, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said the United States “SHOULD NOT fund an organization propping up corrupt countries that actively attack American values and basic human dignity,” according to a statement from his press office published on X.

In a separate X post, Mr. Roy’s press office noted that the Texas lawmaker introduced a bill (H.R.1563) in March that would block taxpayer dollars from funding the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) took to X on Oct. 10 to say he has proudly co-sponsored the legislation.

“American taxpayers should never subsidize a corrupt forum that bashes Israel and sympathizes with terrorists. The UN Human Rights Council needs to be defunded and I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation that seeks to do so. I will always stand with Israel,” Mr. Jackson wrote.

From The Epoch Times

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