The World Uyghur Congress is active is raising Uyghur-related issues on a number of ways in a many different national and international fora. This page provides a detailed overview of the activities that the WUC engages in, what actors or organisations it works with and what we hope to accomplish with these activities.
The World Uyghur Congress engages regularly with the United Nations system to raise human rights violations against the Uyghur people. Engaging with the UN bodies and mechanisms gives the WUC the opportunity to raise these issues before representatives from national governments and international human rights experts.
One of the main ways the World Uyghur Congress engages with the United Nations, is by regularly attending the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. As the epicentre for addressing human rights concern at an international level, it is essential that the Human Rights Council is aware of human rights violations against the Uyghur people and that they hold China accountable for these violations.
There are a number of activities that the WUC conducts to raise awareness of Uyghur-related issues and push for action to be taken with regards to the Human Rights Council.
One of the primary means for doing with is by cooperating with accredited National Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to make oral statements in the General Debate of the Human Rights Council. An Oral Statement is a one and half to two-minute spoken statement about an urgent situation that requires the Council’s attention. It is one of the primary means by which NGOs and human rights advocacy groups can engage with the Council and provide them with important information.
The WUC regularly works with accredited NGOs to make oral statements to the Human Rights Council on pressing issues facing the Uyghur people. In the past, we have delivered oral statements on a number of topics, drawing the Council’s attention to issues such as the 200 Uyghur students in Egypt and growing religious restrictions in East Turkestan. A full list of recent Oral Statements can be found below:
The WUC also uses the occasion of the Human Rights Council sessions to meet with representatives from the member states Permanent Missions. Representatives from the WUC meet with the Permanent Missions to brief them on the latest developments in the Uyghur human rights situations and what pressing issues need to be addressed. We present the missions with our latest reports, briefing notes and any another relevant information and discuss ways that we can work within the UN system to improve the situation for the Uyghur people.
In cooperation with other NGOs and CSOs, the WUC organizes and participates in many side events at HRC sessions. The side events are focused on particular issues and themes and gives an opportunity to present and learn about important issues that there may not be time or space for in the agenda of the Human Rights Council itself. The WUC has used side events, along with our partners, to raise issues from religious persecution to challenges to participation in the United Nations. Some recent activities with regards to side events include:
The special procedures of the Human Rights Council are a very important and unique human rights mechanism that the WUC engages with on human rights issues and specific violations. Unlike other mechanisms and UN bodies, Special Procedures has a degree of independence from the UN system. It consists of independent human rights experts with a mandate to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country-specific perspective. There are 44 thematic mandates and 12 country mandates, as of 1 August 2017.
Special Procedures undertakes a number of activities to support human rights, including going on country visits, sending communications on individual cases and broader situations, conduct thematic studies, convene expert consultations and present and annual report to the Human Rights Council.
The WUC engages with Special Procedures in a number of ways. Its complaint and communication procedure is very important for addressing specific cases of human rights violations. The WUC communicates with many of the Special Rapporteurs and mandate holders, submitting information about specific Uyghur human rights abuses and trying to get specific cases of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, harassment of human rights defenders, etc. addressed. The communication procedure raises these specific violations directly to the offending state, in an official communication from the Special Rapporteur. This way, states must answer for specific violations directly. The information provided by the WUC to the mandate holders may also be used in their annual reports or contribute to the Special Rapporteur requesting a country visit to China to investigate allegations of human rights violations.
The human rights treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. Each State party to a treaty has an obligation to take steps to ensure that everyone in the State can enjoy the rights set out in the treaty. There are ten human rights treaty bodies composed of independent experts of recognized competence in human rights, who are nominated and elected for fixed renewable terms of four years by State parties.
After ratifying a treat, state parties are legally obligated to implement the rights and provisions recognized in the treaty. To ensure its proper implementation, state parties must submit periodic reports to the relevant treaty body detailing their progress implementing these rights. These reports are examined by the relevant treaty body in the presence of the State party.
These periodic reports and reviews by the relevant treaty bodies offer an opportunity for civil society to provide information about the implementation of the treaty and the human rights situation in the country. The primary way the WUC engages with the Treaty Bodies is through this way, by submitting information relevant to the treaty body in the form of reports.
Of the 11 human rights treaties, China has ratified 6 of these, including the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (amongst others), and is therefore obligated to submit a state report on their progress and face examination by the relevant committee. The WUC has submitted information on a number of these reviews, drawing the Committee’s attention to serious human rights concerns and misleading information in the state report.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is one of the key elements of the Council which reminds States of their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms. States are obligated to undergo the UPR every 5 years. China is due to be reviewed next at the 31st session in Oct-Nov 2018.
The UPR is based on information from the state under review in the form of a national report, a compilation of UN information on the state prepared by the OHCHR and a summary of information submitted by other stakeholders, including civil society actors. It is through this last means that the World Uyghur Congress is able to raise the human rights situation of the Uyghur people in China and engage effectively with the UPR. Each time that China is up for review through the UPR, the World Uyghur Congress, and many other organisations concerned with human rights in China, submits a report detailing all of the information about human rights violations affecting the Uyghur people, recent developments during the past 5 years and the current situation. The OHCHR compiles this information into a summary, which is then used in the review itself.
Another way in which the WUC engages with the UPR is through our lobbying and advocacy activities with the Permanent Missions of the member states. Each state submits recommendations to the state under review about particular situations or areas in which their human rights record must improve. It is very important that human rights violations against the Uyghur people are adequately represented in these recommendations. They are published on the UN website after the country is reviewed and available to the public as an indicator of a country’s human rights record and reputation. As such, much of the WUC’s work in meeting with the Permanent Missions of Member States consists of informing them of human rights violations in East Turkestan and lobbying for their inclusion in the UPR recommendations.
The United Nations Forum on Minority Issues is a 2-day meeting convened at the end of November in which participants, which include Member states, minority representatives, civil society, national and regional organizations and international organizations, discuss and identify a number of action-oriented recommendations on a specific topic of relevance for minorities.
The Forum is guided by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and focuses on a specific thematic topic each year. It aims to provide a platform for dialogue, cooperation and networking for participants and gives the participants the opportunity to discuss issues important to minority groups in a multilateral international setting.
The WUC engages with the Minority Forum in a number of ways. Much like our activities in the UN Human Rights Council, representatives from the WUC make Oral Statements about specific human rights violations against Uyghurs or about generally concerning situations. WUC representatives also organize, attend and speak at side events at the forum, in cooperation with other minority rights organisations, to address specific issues related to minority rights.
The WUC also uses this opportunity to again meet with the Permanent Missions of the Member States, UN officials and other NGOs. This is a particularly important time for lobbying, as the Permanent Missions and UN officials are typically more available during this time, than during the UN Human Rights Council sessions. The Forum also facilitates networking and cooperation between different minority rights groups to work towards common goals.
The European Parliament is the primary EU institution that the WUC engages. It is a very important institution to the work of the WUC as it provides the opportunity to raise the human rights situation of the Uyghur people before European politicians and policy makers and to ensure that the situation of the Uyghur people is on the EU human rights agenda. Primarily, the WUC works, in collaboration with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), to meet and establish working relationships with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the elected officials to the European Parliament. Representatives from the WUC engage with the MEPs and the institution itself in a number of ways, to provide information about the human rights situation of the Uyghur people and to fulfill advocacy and human rights objectives
The primary advocacy activity of the WUC in the European Parliament is meeting with and maintain relationships with sympathetic MEPs who are willing and able to raise the Uyghur issue in the European Parliament and support WUC activities in the institutions of the European Union. These meetings seek to inform MEPs of the numerous human rights violations perpetrated against the Uyghur people and to discuss solutions within the EU framework to improve their situation.
With the assistance and sponsorship of sympathetic MEPs, the WUC is able to hold events on pressing issues effecting the Uyghur people in the European Parliament. These events are open to MEPs, ambassadors in Brussels, EU officials and civil society representation to draw attention to important Uyghur-related issues. In the past, the WUC, in cooperation with UNPO and other like-minded organisations, have held events on topics such as religious persecution in East Turkestan and the threat to the Uyghur language, amongst others. The WUC has also worked with its partners to hold official hearings in the European Parliament, organise human rights advocacy training seminars for Uyghur youth in Europe through the European Parliament and has held Uyghur cultural events.
Uyghur Friendship Group
As a result of the advocacy activities of the WUC and UNPO, as of 19 October 2017, there will be a Uyghur Friendship Group in the European Parliament. The friendship group brings together like-minded MEPs who strongly concerned with Uyghur cause and have decided to voluntarily organise themselves to promote Uyghur-related issues in the European Parliament. It is the culmination of years of advocacy activities and gives a significant voice to Uyghur related issues in the European Parliament.
While the WUC has no direct involvement in the drafting and passing of the resolutions of the European Parliament, our advocacy activities, efforts to raise awareness of Uyghur issues and relationship with MEPs help to put Uyghur related issues on the agenda for resolutions. A number of resolutions of Uyghur-related issues have been adopted in the past, including a resolution passed which called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ilham Tohti.
The WUC occasionally speaks on Uyghur related issues directly to the committees and sub-committees of the European Parliament, to provide them with information and a detailed account of particular Uyghur human rights situations. On 27 March 2017, WUC General Secretary, Dolkun Isa, spoke before the EP Human Rights Sub-Committee (DROI) on the educational, economic, political and cultural repression that Uyghurs are subjected to.
Through diligent work from UNPO, the Ilham Tohti Initiative, ChinaChange.org and the WUC, Ilham Tohti received a nomination for the Sakharov Prize in recognition of his work towards interethnic harmony, respect and understanding. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is an annual award delivered by the European Parliament to those who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the world. It aims to support the laureates and their cause, and to draw attention to human rights violations. The nomination brought significant attention to Tohti’s case and the Uyghur struggle for their basic rights, more generally.
While the WUC is not as active in engaging with the Commission and EEAS as it is with the European Parliament, both institutions are very important for the WUC’s advocacy efforts and for achieving recognition of human rights violations against Uyghurs
Representatives from the WUC regularly meeting with officials from the Commission and the EEAS to brief them on the latest developments and pressing situations facing the Uyghur people in East Turkestan. As the Commission and EEAS have significant influence over the decision making and foreign policy direction of the EU, these meetings are crucial to the WUC.
The WUC is active in working with other civil society groups to collectively work towards mutual goals and to support human rights related causes. Representatives from the World Uyghur Congress regularly attend and give the Uyghur perspective at conferences and other events organised by civil society. The WUC engages with other groups concerned with minority related issues, especially when concerned with China, as well as human rights NGOs and diaspora groups.
Regular engagement with civil society is not only an activity in itself, but also helps to support and facilitate the our other activities. The WUC’s work in the UN and EU is often done in tandem and cooperation with fellow NGOs and civil society organisations. We often organise joint protests and conferences, recognising that our advocacy activities are stronger and we have a larger impact when we speak with a united voice on human rights and other issues. Therefore, our work with engaging with civil society and the relationships we form with other NGOs and civil society groups is an essential component to the work of the WUC.
As the World Uyghur Congress is based in Munich, Germany and Germany itself is home to a large Uyghur diaspora population, the WUC has made great efforts to maintain positive and productive relationships with politicians and policy makers in the German government and the regional Bavarian government. The WUC regularly meets with German politicians to brief them on the evolving situation in East Turkestan to ensure that Uyghur-related issues are raised in Bundestag and other governmental bodies.
The World Uyghur Congress is active in providing the future generations of the Uyghur diaspora with the knowledge, ability and capacity to engage in human rights advocacy on Uyghur related issues and speak out on the Uyghur cause. In this regard, the WUC, in cooperation with our partners, regularly organize training seminars for Uyghur youth across the world to teach them skills and strategies to engage in human rights advocacy at the local, national, regional and international levels.
The training seminars aim to combine providing a background and conceptual knowledge of the human rights situation of Uyghurs in East Turkestan and the pressing issues they face, with an emphasis on practical and concrete tools and methods that the participants can use to be active on human rights. A number of international experts brief the participants and lead them in discussion to better their understanding and abilities on a number of issues, such as communicating effectively and local human rights advocacy tools. Participants are also briefed on the role and components of UN and EU human rights mechanisms as well as the role of international law more broadly.
Our training seminar in Stockholm, Sweden on 12-16 October 2017 will mark the 13th training session organized by the WUC, as we have proudly held workshops each year since 2007 in cities as far as Sydney, Washington, Tokyo, Brussels, Berlin, Geneva and the Hague.
The WUC regularly organises demonstrations and mobilises the Uyghur diaspora across Europe to draw attention to important issues, to remember past events or to ensure that the Uyghur voice is known to policy makers.
Past demonstrations have been organised in Brussels, at the institutions of the European Union, at the UN in Geneva, across Germany and in Washington D.C. in the USA. Protests form an important part of collective action by the Uyghur diaspora community, that the WUC helps to organise and facilitate.
The WUC also collaborates with German politicians to organise conferences, trainings and cultural events and to facilitate Uyghur-German friendship and dialogue. As the base of the WUC, the WUC’s engagement with German authorities is an important part of the WUC’s work.