The Chinese Fox Guarding the Human-Rights Henhouse

May 27, 2022
2009_Protest_at_UN_against_China’s_re-election_in_the_Human_Rights_Council_聯合國外抗議中國在人權委員會資格

The United Nations Human Rights Council has come under criticism for including as members many states whose human rights record is controversial, at best. In this week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma, Dr. Rana Inboden discusses her new book, China and the International Human Rights Regime, which details (among other things) how one of those states, China, used its position on the council during the institution building phase to try to undercut the strength and effectiveness of the council’s tools. While Inboden shows that China was at least partly successful in doing so, the effort that China put in to trying not to appear to be opposed to human rights may be telling. Despite criticism that the U.N. human rights regime is toothless, it is still able to shape the behavior of a powerful state — even if only by shaping their desire not to be seen as human rights violators. Or, as the French author François de la Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”

Image:SFT HQ (Students for a Free Tibet), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons