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NGOs urge UN member states to grant accreditation to Chinese and Tibetan human rights organizations to World Conference Against Racism

May 16, 2001

Asia-Pacific and international NGOs are urging all member states attending the Second Preparatory Committee of the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) to allow participation to the Conference of: Human Rights in China (HRIC), International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

The Chinese government is opposing participation of these three human rights organizations to the WCAR. Final decision will be made by the Second Preparatory Committee that begins on Monday, May 21, 2001 in Geneva.

In a petition adopted as a resolution at the Asia-Pacific Network Meeting held on 27-29 April in Kathmandu (Nepal) in connection with the World Conference Against Racism, over 180 Asia-Pacific NGOs advocated participation to the Conference by HRIC, ICT and TCHRD and stated: "We strongly believe that all their activities are in accordance with the fundamental human rights principles put forward by the United Nations, including in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Their work has made an invaluable contribution to a better understanding of the human rights situation in the People's Republic of China and Tibet, including the situations leading to various forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. From a procedural standpoint as well as from a substantive aspect, their applications are strong ones." [Full text below]

In an open letter, international NGOs in consultative status with the United Nations also urged governments to allow unrestrained NGO participation to the World Conference Against Racism. “Discriminating against NGOs solely because they monitor the human rights situation in China and Tibet is unjustified and unacceptable. If all states blocked the participation of NGOs that examine their own human rights situations, no genuine NGO would attend the Conference. The extensive forms of discriminatory practices occurring worldwide would then fail to be addressed. As a matter of principle, we urge all governments to agree by consensus to accreditate HRIC, ICT and TCHRD to the Conference against Racism,” said Sidiki Kaba of Senegal, the President of FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights), a signatory of the open letter.

The open letter has been endorsed by the following NGOs:

International Federation of Human Rights, International Council of Jewish Women, Australian Council for Overseas Aid, South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, Franciscans International, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples, Transnational Radical Party, Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace, Penal Reform International, Interfaith International, Saami Council, Reporters Sans Fronti?es, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, Action des Chr?iens pour l’Abolition de la Torture-F??ation Internationale, Human Rights Watch, International Centre for Human Rights & Democratic Development, Society for Threatened Peoples.

Currently more than 370 NGOs who do not hold consultative status with the United Nations have been accredited to the World Conference, which will take place in Durban, South Africa, from August 31 to September 1 this year.

Petition of the WCAR Asia-Pacific NGO Networking Meeting to the WCAR Preparatory Committee

Kathmandu, Nepal, April 27-29, 2001

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) attending the Asia-Pacific Network Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, in connection with the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, declare our support to three NGOs working on Asia whose requests for accreditation to the Conference have been blocked.

Human Rights in China, the International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy each filed applications for participation in the World Conference Against Racism in accordance with established procedures for NGOs not in consultative status. The Conference Secretariat subsequently accepted their applications. However, when the applications were circulated to member states, the Government of China opposed them. The Bureau decided to submit the question of the accreditation of these NGOs to the Preparatory Committee which will meet for its second session from 21 May— 1 June 2001.

We believe that the review of these applications by the Bureau of the Conference did not meet expected standards of objectivity. This is evidenced by the comments of the Chinese Government, which contended that these organizations were "engaged in subversive activities against China" or in "activities of splitting China." The Chinese Government has failed to present any evidence to sustain this allegation.

All of these NGOs enjoy a reputation of seriousness and professionalism within the international NGO community. We strongly believe that all their activities are in accordance with the fundamental human rights principles put forward by the United Nations, including in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Their work has made an invaluable contribution to a better understanding of the human rights situation in the People's Republic of China and Tibet, including the situations leading to various forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. From a procedural standpoint as well as from a substantive aspect, their applications are strong ones. Therefore, we believe that Human Rights in China, International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy should be granted accreditation.

As a matter of principle, objective consideration should be given to every application before any decision is made. Accordingly, we request that the Second Preparatory Committee invite representatives of these three NGOs to present their organizations and their work, as a way to reply to the Chinese Government's unsubstantiated allegations. We urge all governments to consider their applications on their merits, and to vote in favor of granting them accreditation to the World Conference Against Racism.

Discriminating against NGOs solely because they monitor and document the human rights situation of one particular member state sharply contradicts the spirit of the upcoming Conference. If all member states opposed NGOs that examine their own human rights situations and make constructive proposals on how abuses can be redressed, few NGOs indeed would attend the Conference. As a result, the extensive human rights violations occurring worldwide, including various forms of discriminatory practices, would fail to be addressed.

We call on all concerned to give this issue your utmost attention.


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Open letter to the respected delegates to the World Conference Against Racism

We, the undersigned Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) accredited to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, are asking for your government’s support of the principle of non-discrimination as it pertains to NGO participation in the Conference. We are calling your attention to three NGOs whose requests for accreditation to the Conference have been blocked.

Human Rights in China, the International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy each filed applications for participation in the World Conference Against Racism in accordance with established procedures for NGOs not in consultative status. The Conference Secretariat subsequently accepted their applications. However, when the applications were circulated to member states, the Government of China opposed them. The Bureau decided to submit the question of the accreditation of these NGOs to the Preparatory Committee which will meet for its second session from 21 May — 1 June 2001.

We believe that the review of these applications by the Bureau of the Conference did not meet expected standards of objectivity. This is evidenced by the comments of the Chinese Government, which contended that these organizations were "engaged in subversive activities against China" or in "activities of splitting China." The Chinese Government has failed to present any evidence to sustain this allegation.

All of these NGOs enjoy a reputation of seriousness and professionalism within the international NGO community. We strongly believe that all their activities are in accordance with the fundamental human rights principles put forward by the United Nations, including in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Their work has made an invaluable contribution to a better understanding of the human rights situation in the People's Republic of China and Tibet, including the situations leading to various forms of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. From a procedural standpoint as well as from a substantive aspect, their applications are strong ones. Therefore, we believe that Human Rights in China, International Campaign for Tibet and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy should be granted accreditation.

As a matter of principle, objective consideration should be given to every application before any decision is made. Accordingly, we request that the Second Preparatory Committee invite representatives of these three NGOs to present their organizations and their work, as a way to reply to the Chinese Government's unsubstantiated allegations. We urge all governments to consider their applications on their merits, and to vote in favor of granting them accreditation to the World Conference Against Racism.

Discriminating against NGOs solely because they monitor and document the human rights situation of one particular member state sharply contradicts the spirit of the upcoming Conference. If all member states opposed NGOs that examine their own human rights situations and make constructive proposals on how abuses can be redressed, few NGOs indeed would attend the Conference. As a result, the extensive human rights violations occurring worldwide, including various forms of discriminatory practices, would fail to be addressed.

We call on all concerned to give this issue your utmost attention.