China is committed to respecting human rights in its foreign investments

On March 15, China accepted 284 of the recommendations made in its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). These are aimed at preventing human rights violations in the field of their investments abroad. Undoubtedly, this is an unprecedented event.

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The People’s Republic of China (China) undertook, before the United Nations, to respect human rights in its investments abroad. It accepted 82% of the recommendations made by dozens of countries in its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

The UPR is an evaluation conducted every four and a half years by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It allows rating the behavior of each member state when implementing the UN human rights treaties.

Here are some of the most relevant recommendations that were accepted:

  1. Promote measures that guarantee that development and infrastructure projects, within and outside of their territory, are fully compatible with human rights and respectful of the environment and the sustainability of natural resources, in accordance with national and international law applicable and with the commitments of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Ecuador);
  2. Consider the possibility of establishing a legal framework to guarantee that the activities carried out by the industries subject to their jurisdiction do not undermine human rights abroad (Peru);
  3. Adopt new measures on business and human rights in accordance with their international obligations and ensure that companies operating in high risk or conflict areas conduct due diligence on human rights in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (State of Palestine);
  4. Continue to apply Chinese laws, regulations and standards, such as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to Chinese companies that operate beyond the borders of China (Kenya);

The Chinese delegation said that its opening to host the aforementioned recommendations “fully demonstrates China’s determination and its open and active attitude towards the promotion and protection of human rights.” However, China must inform in two years in its Mid-Term Review before the UNHRC, the progress achieved after the implementation of these recommendations. In addition, you will need to develop an action plan to ensure that your companies and investors respect the rights of local communities and the environment.

María Marta Di Paola of the Environment and Natural Resources Foundation (FARN), expressed that “this commitment should not be considered a paper promise; On the contrary, social organizations around the world must take the floor to the Chinese State, keep vigilant and report to the Chinese embassies and CDHNU when there are violations in the Chinese projects, and demand redress for the violated rights of the victims and the environment “.

It should be noted that last year the Collective on Financing and Chinese Investments, Human Rights and Environment (CICDHA) presented a report in the framework of the UPR, along with 17 other Latin American NGOs, examining 18 projects with Chinese participation in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. The report showed that Chinese companies and banks have systematically violated several rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other United Nations instruments.

What happened in Geneva on March 15 is an unprecedented event that must be celebrated. Likewise, it is important to remember that the results obtained must be largely attributed to the hard work done by numerous civil society organizations in the region and the world.

More information

Video: Consideration of the Universal Periodic Review outcome of China

Report: Evaluation of the Extraterritorial Obligations of the People’s Republic of China from Civil Society: Cases of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru


Melanie Mackenzie


Gonzalo Roza, gon.roza@fundeps.org

Agustina Palencia, agustinapalencia@fundeps.org