Human Rights Record of China Reviewed by UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Human Rights Record of China Reviewed by UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
The Palais des Nations UN Headquarters in Geneva by Jonathan Ansel Moy de Vitry via Unsplash, June 10, 2021


Marios Putro

Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Every five years, the UN Human Rights Council reviews every member state’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and China is currently going through the fourth review following its third in 2018. The UPR's declared goal is to serve as a "cooperative mechanism" to enhance local human rights conditions. A large delegation from the Chinese government was in Geneva on Tuesday to hear suggestions and answer questions from several states regarding a variety of human rights-related topics. The ongoing allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, the human rights crisis in Hong Kong through the National Security Law imposed by Beijing, and the human rights deterioration in Tibet were the main subjects during the review (DW, 2024). China’s UN Ambassador stated: "We embarked on a path of human rights development that is in keeping with the trend of the times and appropriate to China's national conditions and scored historic achievements in this process,". In the meantime, small groups of Uyghur, Hong Kong, Tibetans, and other advocates held protests outside of the UN office in Geneva (DW, 2024).

From the Western side that condemned the Chinese human rights situation, the U.S. was followed by Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, and Belgium (Wear & Khoo, 2024).

The Danish Ambassador Ib Petersen stated that Beijing needs to implement UN recommendations in Xinjiang and to "release writers, bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders, and others arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and guarantee this right, including in Hong Kong." Additionally, the Canadian UN Representative Leslie Norton called on China to end "all forms of enforced disappearances targeting human rights defenders, ethnic minorities and Falung Gong practitioners" and to repeal the controversial security law in Hong Kong. Moreover, the Czech ambassador to China, Vaclav Balek, called Beijing to "end the criminalization of religious and peaceful civil expression by ethnic and religious groups — including Muslim, Uyghurs and Buddhists, Tibetans and Mongolians — under the pretext of protecting state security" as well as "stop cross-border kidnappings and intimidating Chinese citizens living abroad." Similarly, calls for improved minority protection in Tibet and Xinjiang came from Germany, Japan, and Ireland (DW, 2024).

Meanwhile, diplomats informed Reuters reporters that China had lobbied for their supporters to praise their human rights progress. Russia's diplomatic mission's first secretary, Ilia Barmin, gave China advice "to consistently improve the understanding and capacity of citizens to use standard spoken and written Chinese in Xinjiang." Political affairs consultant Frankye Bronwen Levy of South Africa urged China to reinforce its anti-domestic abuse legislation, which was first enacted eight years ago. Meanwhile, Beijing was called upon by the Indian envoy to "continue taking steps to ensure fullest enjoyment of basic human rights by its people, through inclusive and sustainable development." Ethiopia and Cameroon applauded China's human rights initiatives while the envoy of Eritrea pleaded with China "to comprehensively promote ethnic unity and progress."  Lastly, Iran also applauded China's "national action plan for human rights," while Bolivia expressed satisfaction with China's efforts to tackle deforestation (DW, 2024). The Human Rights Council will adopt the review's outcome report in June, and China will either accept or take note of the suggestions (Amnesty International, 2024).


Amnesty International. (2024, January 24). China attempts to ‘gaslight’ international community at UN human rights review. Retrieved January 24, 2024, from


Wear, A., & Prangley Khoo, M. (2024, January 23). China tried, but failed, to prevent UN scrutiny of its human rights violations. Radio Free Asia. Retrieved January 24, 2024, from


Welle, D. (2024, January 23). China grilled over human rights record at UN. Retrieved January 24, 2024, from