Jean Marc Ferré / ISHR, UN Photo


China l Upcoming opportunities to protect human rights at the UN (May 2021 update)

The UN human rights mechanisms – whether we are talking about the Human Rights Council, the Treaty Bodies, or the Special Procedures independent experts – count on civil society engagement to help them do their jobs better. We provide here opportunities for inputs and participation focused on human rights in China, from now through the second half of 2021!

Human Rights Council

This summer will be busy! The UN Human Rights Council will convene its 47th session from 21 June to 15 July 2021. A lot of uncertainties remain, including on the final dates; but with the global pandemic still making travel and ‘business as usual’ hard, it will very likely be held in an online format.

At the session, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will present key reports on State responses to pandemics, and on systemic racism and police violence at the global level. A series of UN independent experts – the Special Rapporteurs – will be presenting reports on issues such as freedom of expression and disinformation; access to justice in the context of peaceful assembly and association; femicide (intentional killing of women); sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in the context of crisis; gender, sexual orientation and gender identity; culture and education; and gender equality in the judiciary.

Updated information on the session can be found here, including its regularly-updated Programme of Work.

With limited participation allowed in the UN premises, all these sessions can be followed online on the UN Web TV websiteFollow ISHR on Twitter at @ISHRglobal and @ISHR_Chinese for updated information.


Treaty Bodies


The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (‘CESCR’) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (‘CEDAW’) have each issued their List of Issues to China (here for CESCR, and here for CEDAW) – that is, a list of questions the Government must provide detailed information about before its formal review by the Committee. You can read our summary of how that went hereISHR also prepared an explainer document available in EnglishMandarin, and Spanish, on the work done by the CESCR, which rights it protects, and how can civil society engage with the Committee. All versions can be downloaded here, including a generic version, and a supplemented version that includes more information about the Committee’s past work to review the situation in China.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the work of the Treaty Bodies, the next step of the reviews by CEDAW and CESCR (the ‘dialogue’ with the State and preparation of ‘Concluding Observations’) will probably not happen until 2022. But this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do: as soon as the Government responds to the questions in a List of Issues, the relevant Treaty Body staff will upload it to the UN website. You can then read it and use it to help you prepare and submit your own report and analysis to the Committee – in particular if you think the Government’s response is inaccurate.

Want to get a head start? Check out the OHCHR dedicated webpage to monitor China’s reporting status, and check past State reports, civil society reports, List of Issues, government responses, and Concluding Observations adopted. ISHR will also try to share on its social media when there is new reports or information available.

Click here to download ISHR’s Guide on the Treaty Bodies!

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