In Geneva on May 8, in a review of China’s implementation of a broad range of obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, independent experts on a UN committee raised a host of questions on some deeply-rooted and highly-charged systemic issues linked to human rights abuses in China.
Among the key issues and concerns raised by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were: limited civil society consultation in the State report China submitted in advance of the review, repression of human rights defenders, a pattern of corruption and its impact on the judiciary, the impact of the household registration (hukou) system on equal enjoyment of rights, the status of draft legislation to sanction domestic violence, and the gender impact of forced evictions and other practices.
In response, the Chinese delegation, as usual, presented statistics and cited formal law and policy as indications of progress, and made frequent assertions of China’s special “national conditions” as a developing country to justify different approaches or push back against constructive recommendations.
Within the next two weeks, the Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the concerns raised during the review. China has the obligation to implement these recommendations and, as repeatedly stressed by the Committee, ensure civil society can freely and meaningfully participate in the process.
China’s next human rights review of its implementation of international obligations will focus on women’s rights, under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is scheduled to take place sometime between late October and early November 2014.