A joint statement on behalf of 50 countries in the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee regarding the human rights situation in Xinjiang, China, has been released by the United States Mission to the United Nations.
“We are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China, especially the ongoing human rights violations of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” the statement reads.
The recent UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Assessment finds that the scale of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other predominately Muslim minorities in Xinjian “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” which the U.S. and other allies have described as “genocide.”
As the assessment relies considerably on China’s own records, it heavily contributes to the existing evidence of severe and systematic human rights violations in China. This includes proof of large-scale arbitrary detention and systematic use of invasive surveillance based on religion and ethnicity; extreme and undue restrictions to the legitimate cultural and religious practices, identity and expression, ill-treatment and sexual and gender-based violence; enforced disappearances and family separations; and forced labor. “Such severe and systematic violations of human rights cannot be justified based on counterterrorism,” the statement said.
The United States Mission to the United Nations reported it is concerned that China has thus far refused to discuss its findings and urges the government of China to uphold its international human rights obligations and to fully implement the recommendations of the OHCHR assessment, including releasing all individuals deprived of their liberty, clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing family members, and facilitate safe contact and reunion.
In June, the Biden administration enacted a ban on goods from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, aiming to end the “abhorrent practice” of modern slavery and taking a closer look into the supply chain methods at play there. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was passed by the Biden administration in December 2021 and prohibits any product made in whole or in part in Xinjiang from entering the United States unless proven said product was not made with forced labor.
This statement comes just weeks after more than 60 human-rights organizations, civil society groups and trade unions signed a letter pressing the European Commission to strengthen proposed legislation banning goods made with forced labor. In late October, 40 environmental and human-rights groups, including the Uyghur Human Rights Project, expressed their “collective outrage” over a proposal from major U.S. businesses that would hide data collected from shipping manifests, which researchers and journalists use to find any human-rights violations within global supply chains.
Nike, meanwhile, has rejected calls to stop sourcing in China over because of the difficulty in ensuring it can keep forced labor out of its supply chain. Xinjiang produces 85 percent of China’s cotton, which in turn makes up roughly one-fifth of the world’s total. Cotton from the region has been detected in clothing from brands including Puma, Adidas and Hugo Boss.