For Immediate Release:  10 October 2023

Tibet Activists call the re-election of China to the Human Rights Council an undeserved reward for repression

Awarding a major human rights violator like China a seat on the leading rights body undermines Council’s credibility

[10 October 2023] Tibet rights activists have today slated China’s re-election to the UN Human Rights Council stating that serial rights violators do not deserve such a seat. The activists said that the vote severely undermines the credibility of the Council, whose function is to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights globally. 

154 out of 193 UN Member States refused to take a stand today and instead opted to reward the Chinese government’s assault on freedoms by supporting their bid. [1] Historically this is the second-lowest number of votes China have ever received.

This endorsement comes despite multiple UN human rights bodies raising the alarm at the escalation of human rights violations in Tibet, including the residential school system that has seen nearly 1 million Tibetan children separated from their families and communities through an extensive labour transfer programme; the imprisonment of Tibetan environmental defenders; and the sidelining of Tibetan language education [7]. Tibetans continue to face torture, death in custody [8] and enforced disappearances at the hands of the Chinese state. [9]

Prior to the vote, Human Rights groups, including a Coalition of over 140 Tibet groups, [10] called on Members of the General Assembly to heed this opportunity and deny a seat to China’s abusive government, under which Tibet has become the least free place in the world for civil and political rights, tied only with Syria.[11]

Pema Doma, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet, said: “Today, Tibet is ranked as the least free place on Earth. Tibetans are denied basic rights that most take for granted, such as having a passport, possessing a photo of the Dalai Lama, organising a climate protest, or refusing to send their children to government-run colonial boarding schools. 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 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. “

Gloria Montgomery of Tibet Advocacy Coalition said: “It is shameful that the worst rights violators can be elected to what should be the UN’s leading body responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights globally. Governments missed a vital opportunity to show their commitment to the UN’s core values with 159 UN Member States opting to turn their backs on those suffering under China’s repressive grip. While China may have secured a seat today on the Council, Tibetans and Tibet activists around the world will continue to fight for accountability on Beijing’s assault on fundamental freedoms.”

Lobsang Yangtso, International Tibet Network, said: “China’s dire record at upholding human rights has continued to deteriorate year after year. China has failed to respect and protect human rights, and repression in Tibet has gone from bad to worse and today’s vote simply emboldens their systematic violations. Now it is in the hands of those principled States that did take a principled stand and voted against China’s election – now they come forward and find solutions to hold China truly accountable for their serious human rights abuses.“



[1]  Out of a possible 193 votes, China received 154 in favour. The identity of governments that did not vote for China or abstained is not known as the vote was a secret ballot.

[2] OHCHR, Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues; the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; the Special Rapporteur on the right to education and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, 11 November 2022: ; OHCHR, China: UN experts alarmed by separation of 1 million   Tibetan children from families and forced assimilation at residential schools, 6 February 2023:–,%2C%20UN%20experts*%20warned%20today ;  Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Concluding Observations, 6 March 2023:; Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Concluding Observations,  30 May 2023: