China in the UN Human Rights Council

In recent years, China has sought to extend its influence in a range of UN and other multilateral institutions. It was among the first countries to be elected for a three-year term at the newly created UN Human Rights Council in 2006 and was subsequently re-elected for the terms beginning in 2010, 2014, 2017 and 2021.

China has used its position on the Council to push its “non-interference” agenda, presenting a false dichotomy between addressing human rights violations – which China dismisses as “naming and shaming” – and “dialogue and cooperation.” China has been increasingly outspoken in its opposition to country-specific resolutions at the Council and the use of the Council to criticize states for their human rights records, and has been particularly sensitive to concerns raised over the situation in China.

China’s efforts to replace the idea of holding states accountable for violations with a commitment to “dialogue” culminated in the Council adopting China’s proposed resolution on “mutually beneficial cooperation”. First tabled in 2018, the resolution stated that constructive dialogue should be used to promote human rights, rather than “naming and shaming” countries for violations. Accountability for human rights violations and constructive dialogue are not mutually exclusive but rather interdependent; dialogue and cooperation are not possible if the facts of the matter are not disclosed.