Council debates report of first special procedure to visit China since 2006
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 14:21


The Human Rights Council (the Council) held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr Olivier De Schutter on 6 March.  The Special Rapporteur’s visit to China was his first visit to the country, and the first mission by a Council special procedure to China since the 2006 visit of the Special Rapporteur on torture.


In his report, Mr De Schutter praised the efforts and remarkable progress made by China in reducing poverty and food insecurity but cautioned that more still needed to be done. Other issues raised included achievements made in combating malnutrition, but with obesity in children on the rise there is a need to ensure the adequacy and diversity of diets. In addition, the Special Rapporteur warned that climate change remains a grave threat with land degradation and water scarcity a huge problem. He recommended that agricultural systems focus on becoming more resilient to climate related shocks. China stated that on the whole the Special Rapporteur’s report was generally balanced.

In concluding comments, Mr De Schutter criticised the policy of forcibly resettling nomadic herders and said that this policy, in relation to herders in Tibet in particular, raised ‘legitimate and important concerns’. Both Cuba and China objected to the Special Rapporteur’s concluding comments. Cuba raised a point of order that Mr De Schutter was ‘exceeding the limits of his mandate’, to which China concurred, accusing the Special Rapporteur of serving ‘his own personal and political’ interests.


Mr De Schutter’s concluding comments on the policy of forcibly resettling nomadic herders followed statements made by Human Rights Watch and the Helsinki Foundation in which they called for an end to the non-voluntary relocation of nomads until consultations could take place with the parties as the nomads were finding themselves often ‘worse off’ in relation to access to food.  Mr De Schutter also drew to the Council’s attention that since March 2011, there had been 25 self immolations in Tibet against the land resettlement policies of which 18 had been herders forcibly resettled in collective villages.


In its right of reply, China stated that it ‘categorically rejected’ the ‘groundless’ allegations made by the non-governmental organisations. It complained to the Council that some NGOs were repeatedly being given the floor whilst others were not being given the chance to speak, perhaps indicating that it wished to see other NGOs less critical of its human rights record taking the floor. Furthermore, China expressed its disappointment with the Special Rapporteur’s remarks, which it believed were outside of his mandate. 


Aside from comments on NGO participation and discontent with Mr De Schutter’s mention of Tibet, China engaged with the report in a broadly constructive spirit. China stated that generally speaking Mr De Schutter’s visit enabled him to gain in depth knowledge of the real China. It acknowledged that the report notes the challenges China faces in the enjoyment of the right to adequate food and it recognised the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations in that regard. The delegation added that China is happy to continue to work with the special procedures to improve the implementation of the right to food and other issues.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 March 2012 14:23
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