8 October 2020

To: The Member States of the UN General Assembly

We the undersigned 115 global Tibet related groups – all committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of those living under Chinese rule – urge you to vote against China’s election bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Members of the Human Rights Council are expected to maintain the highest standards of human rights and to cooperate with the council. UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, which created the Human Rights Council, urges UN Member States voting for prospective Council members to “take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights.” This applies to candidates’ efforts to promote and protect human rights in their own countries and abroad. Members of the Human Rights Council are also required to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and to “fully cooperate with the Council.” We strongly believe that China falls short on all counts.

The catalogue of evidence of China’s brutal assault on human rights in Tibet, East Turkestan, Hong Kong and Southern Mongolia, coupled with abject failures to cooperate with the United Nations, and systematic efforts to undermine freedoms globally, make it utterly untenable for UN Member States to support China’s election bid.

Under President Xi Jinping, Tibet has become the second least free country in the world after only Syria. During the past decade, the Chinese government has unleashed a harsh crackdown on civil society, especially in Tibet. In July 2015, these policies resulted in the death in custody of prominent Tibetan Buddhist leader, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who had been persecuted and incarcerated for life on trumped-up and politically motivated charges.

The human rights situation for those living under Chinese rule has become so severe that 51 UN experts issued an unprecedented statement calling for a Special Session to be held on China and highlighting the urgent need to establish a UN mechanism to monitor and investigate the widespread human rights violations perpetrated by the Chinese government. Since the start of 2020 alone, over half a million Tibetans have been coerced into militarised labour facilities in Tibet, where they are subjected to indoctrination, ideological training, intrusive surveillance and mass relocation.

At the United Nations, the Chinese government’s record is equally dire. China has consistently failed to cooperate with the Council, including by granting access to Special Procedures to visit the country. In the last two decades between 1997 and 2020, China permitted only eight mandate holders to visit the country – see below. The last UN expert to visit Tibet was the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2005. During the most recent visit of a UN expert to China which took place from 25 November to 3 December 2019, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN Independent Expert on the Human Rights of Older Persons, was again unable to visit Tibet. To date, there are at least 19 outstanding visit requests to China by Special Procedures while the last UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Tibet was Mary Robinson in 1998.

Individuals and groups, including Tibetans, who have cooperated with the United Nations, its representatives, and mechanisms have been subject to reprisals and intimidation by the Chinese government. China has consistently been cited in the Secretary General’s reports on ‘Alleged Reprisals for Cooperation with the United Nations, its Representatives, and Mechanisms in the Field of Human Rights’.

China has also consistently voted against country-specific resolutions under item 2 which are geared towards addressing the urgent human rights situation in countries such as North Korea, Syria, Yemen, and Iran and has used the Human Rights Council to table resolutions undermining human rights, emphasising national sovereignty, and calling for quiet dialogue and cooperation rather than investigations and international calls to action, most notably in 2017 and 2018 and 2020.

The upcoming Human Rights Council election on 13 October 2020 presents UN Member States with a crucial opportunity to send a clear message to the Chinese authorities, that their total disregard for international law will not be tolerated. Granting China a seat at the Council will undercut the Council’s credibility, its other achievements and will send a dangerous signal that the Human Rights Council is not fit for the purpose it was created.

We are also concerned by the lack of competitive elections we are once again witnessing at the Council and call on your government to commit itself publicly to support a competitive, genuinely-contested, and principled electoral process for Human Rights Council elections.

In the interest of safeguarding the integrity of the Human Rights Council and fulfilling the vision of its creators, we urge your delegation to the UN General Assembly to apply the membership criteria of its own resolution when casting their secret ballots on 13 October 2020. China clearly falls far short of those standards.

Thank you for your leadership on these issues.

SIGNED by Tibet Advocacy Coalition and the following 115 Member Groups of the International Tibet Network:


Anterrashtriya Bharat – Tibbet Sahyog Samiti

Bharrat Tibbat Sahyog Manch, India

Circle of Friends (Philippines)

Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India

Dream for Children, Japan

Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H. H. the Dalai Lama

Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan

India Tibet Friendship Society

Japan Association of Monks for Tibet (Super Sangha)

National Campaign for Tibetan Support, India

National Democratic Party of Tibet

Roof of the World Foundation, Indonesia

Students for a Free Tibet Japan

Students for a Free Tibet India

Taiwan Friends of Tibet

The Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, Mongolia and Turkestan

Tibet Lives, India

Tibet Support Group Kiku, Japan

Tibetan Women’s Association (Central)

North America:

Association Cognizance Tibet, North Carolina

Bay Area Friends of Tibet

Boston Tibet Network

Canada Tibet Committee

Committee of 100 for Tibet

International Tibet Independence Movement

Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet

Sierra Friends of Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet

Students for a Free Tibet – Canada

Tibet Action Institute

Tibet Committee of Fairbanks

Tibet Justice Center

Tibetan Association of Ithaca

Tibetan Association of Northern California

Tibetan Association of Philadelphia

Tibetan Cultural Association – Quebec

Tibetans of Mixed Heritage


U.S. Tibet Committee

United Nations for a Free Tibet (UNFFT)

Latin America:

Amigos de Tibet, Colombia

Amigos del Tíbet, Chile 

Amigos del Tibet, El Salvador

Asociación Cultural Peruano Tibetana 

Asociación Cultural Tibetano Costarricense

Casa Tibet México

Centro De Cultura Tibetana, Brazil 

Friends of Tibet in Costa Rica

Le Club Français, Paraguay

RangZen:Movimento Tibete Livre, Brazil

Tibet Mx 

Tibet Group, Panama

Tíbet Patria Libre, Uruguay

World League for Freedom and Democracy

Africa and Middle East:

Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People

Tibet Support Group Kenya

Tibet Society of South Africa

Tibet Rescue Initiative in Africa

Western Europe:

Aide aux Refugies Tibetains

Association Drôme Ardèche-Tibet

Associazione Italia-Tibet

Briancon05 Urgence Tibet

Casa del Tibet – Spain

Comite de Apoyo al Tibet (CAT)

EcoTibet Ireland


Free Tibet

Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete, Portugal

International Society of Human Rights, Munich Chapter (IGFM)

Les Amis du Tibet – Belgium

Les Amis du Tibet Luxembourg

Lions Des Neiges Mont Blanc, France

Maison des Himalayas

Maison du Tibet – Tibet Info

Objectif Tibet

Passeport Tibetain

Phagma Drolma-Arya Tara

Save Tibet, Austria

Society for Threatened Peoples International

Students for a Free Tibet – France

Students for a Free Tibet – UK

Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association (GSTF)

Tashi Delek Bordeaux

Tibet Initiative Deutschland

Tibet Society, U.K.

Tibet Support Group – Netherlands

Tibetan Association of Germany

Tibetan Community Austria

Tibetan Community in Britain

Tibetan Community in Ireland

Tibetan Youth Association in Europe

Tibetan Community of Italy

Tibetisches Zentrum Hamburg

Lungta Association Belgium

Northern Europe

Friends of Tibet in Finland

Swedish Tibet Committee

The Norwegian Tibet Committee

Tibet Support Committee Denmark

Tibetan Community in Denmark

Tibetan Community Sweden

Students for a Free Tibet Denmark

Central & Eastern Europe

Czechs Support Tibet

Save Tibet Foundation

Tibet cesky (Tibet in Czech)

Tibetan Programme of The Other Space Foundation

TSG – Slovenia


Australia Tibet Council

Friends of Tibet New Zealand

Sakya Trinley Ling

Tibet Action Group of Western Australia

Tibet Support Group Adelaide – Australia

Tibetan Community of Victoria

Tibetan Community, Queensland


NOTE: In the last two decades between 1997 and 2020, China permitted only eight mandate holders to visit the country:
UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Mission to China, 29 December 2004, E/CN.4/2005/6/Add.4, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/42d66e570.html; UN Commission on Human Rights, “Report submitted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum: Visit to the People’s Republic of China,” E/CN.4/1998/44/Add.2, December 22, 1997;  UN Commission on Human Rights, Report on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: Mission to China, 10 March 2006, E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.6, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/45377b160.html;  UN Commission on Human Rights, The right to education: Report submitted by the Special Rappoteur, Katarina Toma?evski: Addendum Mission to China, 21 November 2003, E/CN.4/2004/45/Add.1, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/4090ffdc0.html; UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter – Addendum – Mission to China, 20 January 2012, A/HRC/19/59/Add.1, available at: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/19/59/Add.1; UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice – Mission to China, 12 June 2014, A/HRC/26/39/Add.2, available at: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/26/39/Add.2; UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights on his mission to China, 1 March 2016, A/HRC/31/60/Add.1, available at: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/31/60/Add.1; UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights on his mission to China, 28 March 2017, A/HRC/35/26/Add.2, available at: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/35/26/Add.2; UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation of older persons on her visit to China, 7 August 2020,A/HRC/45/14/Add.1, available at:  https://undocs.org/A/HRC/45/14/Add.1