March 6, 2012 – Mr. Kai Müller, Executive Director International Campaign for Tibet-Germany speaking on Tibet for the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Clustered Interactive Dialogue with: – The Special Rapporteur on the right to food and – The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, 19th meeting 19th Session of the Human Rights Council.
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States (presently including the People’s Republic of China) responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. The Council meets three times a year in Geneva, and the 19th session runs from 27 February until 23 March 2012.
Special Procedures of the Council address specific country situations or thematic issues. Most Special Procedures receive information on specific allegations of human rights violations (including from ICT) and send urgent appeals or letters of allegation to governments asking for clarification. In this context, NGOs can be given an opportunity to address topics covered by the Special Procedures during its regular sessions.
Read Mr. Mueller’s oral statement:
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL – Nineteenth session
Agenda item 3 – Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
Interactive Dialogue: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food (A/HRC/19/59/Add.1)
Oral statement by Mr. Kai Müller on behalf of Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
We wish to thank the Special Rapporteur on the right to food for his report on his mission to China. While the Rapporteur’s findings suggest that overall access to food in the People’s Republic of China has improved, his reference on forced eviction of nomads suggests that improved food access does not extend to everyone in China.
The Special Rapporteur’s description of the program of nomadic “resettlement” indicates that while the Chinese government is ostensibly acting in order “to preserve the land and benefit the Tibetan nomads economically,” such policies have failed to meet the goals. Mr. De Schutter found that many of the re-settled nomads had lost their land, were unable to keep their livestock, were relocated to areas unsuitable for agriculture, could not practice their traditional livelihoods and were thus economically dependent on State aid.
We wish to inform the Council that Tibet’s nomadic lifestyle is one of the last examples in the world of sustainable pastoralism. For centuries, Tibetan nomadic herders have made a sustainable living uniquely adapted to the harsh conditions of the Tibetan plateau. An estimated 2.25 million Tibetan nomads live on the plateau, and as the Special Rapporteur noted, in 2010 between 50 and 80 percent of these nomads are being evicted from their ancestral lands.
As NGOs have stated to this Council, we wish to echo the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation that calls for the Chinese government to:
“(a) suspend the non-voluntary resettlement of nomadic herders from their traditional lands and the non-voluntary relocation or re-housing programmes of other rural residents, in order to allow for meaningful consultations to take place with the affected communities, permitting parties to examine all available options, including recent strategies of sustainable management of marginal pastures;” and “(b) Improve employment opportunities, education and health services in ‘new socialist’ villages, in order to enable the realization of the right to adequate food in all resettled rural habitants.”