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HRC54: Russia, China and Burundi are not fit to sit at the Human Rights Council

ISHR delivered a statement at the 54th session of the HRC, urging UN member States not to vote for Burundi, China and Russia as they are not fit to sit at the Human Rights Council.

The Human Rights Council  (HRC) must be effective and accessible to victims and human rights defenders. Through membership of the Council, State candidates commit themselves to ‘uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,’ and to fully cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms.

However, according to the HRC membership criteria, three candidates stand out as manifestly unsuitable for membership at the Human Rights Council: Burundi, China and Russia.  

All three States have been identified by UN experts as being allegedly responsible for crimes against humanity and other atrocity crimes, and for the repression of civil society, including  systematically threatening and attacking defenders who seek to cooperate with the UN.

The Commission of Inquiry on Burundi considers that potential crimes against humanity have been committed in the country since 2015, and the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation to examine the alleged crimes against humanity.  In August 2022, the High Commissioner concluded that the arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims ‘may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity’. Moreover, the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded that Russia is directly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Burundi is one of the countries in the African Sub Saharan region where most acts of intimidation and reprisals have been recorded. The UN Secretary-General recognises China as a country that engages in a pattern of reprisals against human rights defenders and it is one of the top three perpetrators of reprisals globally. Russia had its HRC membership suspended following its invasion of Ukraine and perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In April 2023, it passed a law criminalising assistance to and cooperation with international bodies.

Acts of intimidation and reprisals are the most flagrant type of non-cooperation. It is clear that Burundi, China and Russia are not fit to sit at the Human Rights Council.

ISHR urges UN member States not to vote for these States  and to only vote for candidates that fit HRC membership criteria. We urge all UN regional groups of member States to present more candidacies than the available seats to ensure competitive HRC elections.

Read more about ISHR’s campaign #HRCelections2023.

It's time to #EndReprisals

It's time to #EndReprisals

Human rights defenders are essential voices from our communities. They face intimidation and reprisals when engaging with the United Nations. Join our campaign to #EndReprisals!

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