Estd. 2006
Unprecedented Victory for Tibet at the United Nations

Pema Doma

Several months ago, as I walked through the halls of the United Nations in Geneva—the Human Rights headquarters of the world—I was saddened by the thought that Tibetan voices were largely unheard in those halls. As the United Nations embarked on its 44th Session of the Human Rights Council two days ago, however, the issue of Tibet resoundingly echoed through the halls in Geneva. 

As China tries to manipulate international institutions to comply with its will, Tibetan human rights defenders and advocacy groups have continued demanding accountability and justice. 

Through its role on the Tibet Advocacy Coalition (“TAC”), SFT has been fighting to represent Tibetans living inside Tibet at the UN for nearly a decade. And on June 26, something unprecedented occurred: 50 UN special procedures (UN appointed human rights experts) issued a very strong joint-statement calling for "decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China." (Read the statement here

The statement calls on member states to support an urgent special Human Rights Council session on China’s persistent human rights violations, and for a new UN mechanism to monitor and investigate the human rights situation in China, Tibet, Hong Kong, and East Turkestan. 

The UN experts also called for the establishment of an impartial and independent United Nations mechanism - such as a United Nations Special Rapporteur, a Panel of Experts appointed by the HRC, or a Secretary General Special Envoy - to closely monitor, analyze, and report annually on the human rights situation in China. These measures and the fact that high-level officials are calling for them are truly unprecedented!

As always, while I am very pleased that the TAC has been able to successfully push for this great feat, it is a little bittersweet. As a Tibetan-American, I pray for the day when Tibetans from inside Tibet—nomads from the grasslands, nuns from Yangchen Gar, activists and human rights defenders from all over Tibet—will have the platform to fight for their own rights at the UN. Until that day, we will continue amplifying their messages at the UN, and beyond.

(Pema Doma is the Campaigns Director of the Students for a Free Tibet)

Image 1: Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland © 2019 Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP

Image 2: The Tibet Advocacy Coalition outside the Palace of Nations in Geneva. 

July 02 2020