October 18, 2018—Students with the Asia Law and Justice Program at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice traveled to Geneva this month to participate in pre-Session meetings and advocacy in advance of China’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November. As part of this work, the team met with more than 15 governments in an effort to focus global attention on China’s human rights record protecting its most vulnerable communities.
The UPR is a State-driven review of the human rights records of all United Nations Member States that is conducted under the auspices of the Human Rights Council. The process allows each country to describe the steps it has taken to improve the human rights situations within their jurisdictions, and also allows civil society actors to participate in the process and highlight issues it that may have been under reported by the country being reviewed. At the conclusion of the process, States issue recommendations to the country being reviewed on how best to improve human rights going forward.
From October 8 through 11, 2018, Leitner Center advocacy team met with governments to highlight the conclusions of its own stakeholder submission. The Leitner Center submission made in March (which can be found here) highlighted continuing violations against three vulnerable populations in China—sex workers, people living with HIV, and people who use drugs. Although China has stated that it “respects the principle of universality of human rights” and “works to ensure that every citizen enjoys a life of ever-greater dignity, freedom and well-being,” these three marginalized communities face ongoing abuses. While China has supported past UPR recommendations to protect vulnerable populations, genuine implementation must ensure full realization of human rights for all. China’s formal review will take place in Geneva in November 2018.
Caitlin Hickey (J.D. ’19) and Reece Pelley (J.D. ’19) traveled to Geneva with Asia Law and Justice Program Director Joey Lee and Leitner Center Executive Director Elisabeth Wickeri to participate in this advocacy. In its meetings, the team urged States to consider the needs of China’s most vulnerable populations when making its recommendations in November.