GENEVA: The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday (Oct 6) voted against holding a debate on alleged abuses in China’s Xinjiang region in a major setback for Western nations.
The United States and its allies last month presented the first-ever draft decision to the UN’s top rights body targeting China, seeking a bare minimum of holding a discussion on Xinjiang.
The move came after former UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet released her long-delayed Xinjiang report last month, citing possible crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region.
But following intense lobbying by Beijing, countries on the 47-member council in Geneva voted 19-17 against holding a debate, with 11 countries abstaining.
The nations voting against having a discussion were Bolivia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
Those abstaining were Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Gambia, India, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico and Ukraine.
Western allies had been scrambling for votes in the run-up to Thursday’s moment of drama at the UN Palais des Nations.
The draft decision was co-sponsored by Britain, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Australia and Lithuania.
One Western diplomat stressed that regardless of the outcome, “the number one objective has been fulfilled” in putting the spotlight on Xinjiang.