UN Human Rights chief won’t seek another term after criticism over China visit


Geneva: Amid the controversy surrounding her recent China visit, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has decided not to seek another term after the present term was marred by criticism of her response to Beijing’s alleged rights violations in Xinjiang province.


Taking to Twitter, Bachelet said she will not be seeking a second term for personal reasons. “Today, I briefed @UN_HRC, opening my last session as High Commissioner. I will not be seeking a second term for personal reasons. It is time to go back to Chile & be with family. I urge States to identify common ground to achieve solutions to our shared human rights challenges,” Bachelet said in a tweet.


Earlier this month, 230 human rights advocacy groups called for the immediate resignation of the UN rights chief after what they termed as a “whitewash” visit to China.


“We further call on the UN Secretary-General to not propose the renewal of her mandate and demand the High Commissioner immediately release the report on the human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in East Turkistan (Xinjiang),” the World Uyghur Congress had said in a statement.

During her six-day visit to China, the first by a High Commissioner since 2005, the right groups said Bachelet “squandered” a rare opportunity to promote accountability by failing to address the litany of systematic human rights violations committed by the Chinese authorities, they said.


Rights groups say Bachelet also neglected to offer a single specific recommendation to address the gravity of the human rights crisis. “This abject failure to hold the Chinese government accountable for its crimes comes despite an unprecedented call in June 2020, by over 50 UN experts for “decisive measures” to protect fundamental freedoms in China.”


According to the Uyghur group, the High Commissioner legitimized Beijing’s attempt to cover up its crimes by using the Chinese government’s false “counter-terrorism” framing and repeatedly referred to the notorious internment camps by the Chinese government’s term: “Vocational Education and Training Centers” (VETCs).


Just days prior, the ‘Xinjiang Police Files’ revealed further incriminating evidence of the mass internment of thousands of Uyghurs and Directives from Beijing to treat detainees like dangerous criminals and to open fire to stop escapees. While world leaders responded by calling for an immediate investigation, Bachelet remained silent.


Since 2021, the High Commissioner has also stalled on the commitment to release a report on the human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic communities in East Turkistan. “The repeated, open-ended, and unexplained delays call into serious question the credibility of her Office to fulfil its mandate,” the World Uyghur Congress said.

first published:June 13, 2022, 6:56 p.m.

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