UNITED NATIONS (May 3, 1996) – The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Friday barred three non-governmental organizations opposed by China from attending a U.N. conference on the problems of cities, to be held in Turkey next month.
By a vote of 21 to 15 with 16 abstentions, ECOSOC rejected accreditation of the U.S.-based Tibetan Rights Campaign.
On the recommendation of the secretariat of the forthcoming conference, ECOSOC also rejected, without a vote, the accreditation of the Taiwan International Alliance and the Canada Tibet Committee.
The conference, called Habitat II, is to be held in Istanbul from June 3 to 14.
China opposes the Tibetan Rights Campaign as aimed at splitting off Tibet from China. It also rejects any involvement in U.N. affairs by Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade Chinese province.
Tibetan Rights Campaign’ Accreditation Rejected
Xinhua (the official Chinese “news agency”)
UNITED NATION (May 3, 1996) – The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today rejected the accreditation of the “Tibetan Rights Campaign” to the forthcoming second U.N. Conference on Human Settlement (Habitat II) by a vote of 21 to 15, with 16 abstentions.
Speaking at the meeting, Chinese Deputy Representative to the U.N. Wang Xuexian criticized the United States for taking up the settled issue “out of its own political purposes.”
The so-called “Tibetan Rights Campaign,” Wang noted,”is an organization based on the territory of the United States that takes splitting Tibet from China as its primary objective.”
It was precisely for the reason that the ECOSOC last year rejected accreditation of this organization for participation in activities related to the Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995.
He said that the ECOSOC decision “is based on the fundamental principle that no organization whose objective is to sabotage the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states of the U.N. should be allowed to be involved in activities related to the U.N.”
Moreover, Wang pointed out, the Habitat II Secretariat has stated that it is not in a position to recommend accreditation of this organization because the primary purpose of this organization “was either not clearly relevant or seemed to be outside the substantive scope of the conference.”
TRC accreditation debate brings Tibet to the UN
Officer lies to please China; Public apology demanded
Tibetan Rights Campaign, Canada Tibet Committee, International Campaign for Tibet
NEW YORK (May 3, 1996) – On Friday, May 3, 1996, the United Nations denied accreditation to the Habitat II Conference for the Canada Tibet Committee (Montreal) and Tibetan Rights Campaign (Seattle). The refusal by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) following a debate between the American and Chinese representatives, raises serious concerns about the ability of the United Nations to apply impartial, universal standards to its decision-making process.
Kunzang Yuthok, Executive Director of the Tibetan Rights Campaign, worries that the UN in trying to please China has made false accusations about her organization.
Press Release/#5639 issued by the UN on May 3 stated; “The NGO Liaison Coordinator for Habitat II, Farouk Mawlawi said,…. the Tibetan Rights Campaign had stated that it had participated in the Fourth World Conference on Women and that it had been recommended for accreditation to that Conference. However, … it was found to be erroneous”
“This accusation is completely false,” says Yuthok. “Our application does not say that we were accredited to the FWCW. It states that our activities included work for the FWCW. The Tibetan Rights Campaign was part of the Tibetan Women’s Delegation to the FWCW and served as its U.S. coordination body.”
Yuthok has not discounted bringing a legal action against the Secretariat. “This lie has seriously affected our organization’s reputation and integrity within the UN governing bodies. The false accusation was made by a UN official before the ECOSOC body during final deliberations on our status. A public apology, before the same body, and an explanation are clearly in order. The record must be set straight.”
“The inability of member states to effectively stand up to China on basic issues of fairness allows China to flaunt the UN Charter with impunity,” said Carole Samdup of the Canada Tibet Committee. “Even though the Canada Tibet Committee is a federally registered non-profit organization which has taken an active role in preparations for the Habitat conference, the Government of Canada put forward no objection to our rejection by the Habitat 11 Secretariat. Canada’s position further validates China’s flagrant political maneuvering by refusing to register a vote in favor of the Tibetan Rights Campaign.”
Samdup added that both the Tibetan Rights Campaign and Canada Tibet Committee are mandated to promote universal human rights. “Rights are indivisible,” says Samdup, “and the activities of our organizations are therefore clearly relevant to a conference promoting the right to housing.”
Still, both Yuthok and Samdup are pleased that the Tibetan issue has been debated within the Economic and Social Council. “Whenever the question of Tibet is raised, it reminds governments around the world that we are still struggling for our cause,” said Yuthok. “We call upon all Tibet NGOs to continue applying for accreditation to various United Nations events. We will serve as reminders to the UN and member states that the situation of Tibet needs their immediate attention.”
Ambassador Victor Marrero, representing the U.S. at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), supported Tibetan participation.
While China succeeded in blocking the participation of Tibetan NGOs, it was unable to do so through informal consultations, resulting in a number of public debates, and for the first time, a vote in the 54-member ECOSOC. The vote broke down along similar lines to the UN Human Rights Commission which defeated a motion to censure China last month. In both votes, China won by commanding an overwhelming majority of African and Asian nations, whereas Western countries and some Latin American and Eastern European states voted against China’s position.
It is unknown whether Malawi’s false accusation against the TRC swayed enough countries to change the outcome of the vote. Valerie Raymond, head of the Canadian delegation to Habitat official said that Canada had planned to vote for accreditation, but changed their vote at the last minute after hearing Malawi.
Banning Tibetan NGOs from the Habitat conference on housing and sustainable communities, which takes place in Istanbul in June, continues the UN policy that Tibetan human rights groups which include self-determination issues in their work are unwelcome at the UN.
The vote to exclude Tibetan groups has raised the question in the human rights community as to whether groups advocating self-determination, which is one of the human rights named in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, may be barred from UN conferences and other fora. China’s ability to martial votes among third world countries to keep its non-governmental critics out of the UN system is clearly a controversy the UN would like to avoid. According to reports, officials from the U.S. and other Western countries also hoped to avoid public confrontation with China at ECOSOC. China’s unbending position, however, would have required the U.S. and other countries to agree to bar deserving NGOs because of their political views on Tibet.
More than six Tibetan non-governmental organizations, including the Tibetan Rights Campaign, will still go to Istanbul this summer to participate in a parallel non-governmental conference and will continue to raise Tibetan issues there.