The United Nations human rights chief announced she would not seek a second term during a U.N. assembly on Monday after failing to investigate the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Western China.
During a speech at the 50th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, announced it would be her last time leading the assembly. Bachelet dismissed the suggestion that her decision to step back was connected with her failure to investigate reports of crimes against humanity and genocide committed against ethnic minorities by the Chinese government during her long-awaited trip to Xinjiang, China, in May.
“As my term as High Commissioner draws to a close, this Council’s milestone fiftieth session will be the last which I brief,” Bachelet said.
In 2021, the U.S. State Department determined that since at least 2017 China had committed crimes against humanity and perpetrated genocide — such as arbitrary imprisonment, torture, forced labor and other human rights violations — against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. Critics, such as Dr. Mamtimin Ala, advisor to the East Turkistan Government in Exile, predicted that the U.N. visit to Xinjiang would be scripted by the Chinese government in order to conceal human rights abuses from the U.N. team.
Bachelet told reporters on Monday that her decision not to seek a second term had been made months prior and had no connection with her recent visit to China, Reuters reported.
“Two months ago, before even going to China, I made a decision and I informed my boss, the Secretary-General,” Bachelet said at the press conference. “So it has no relationship.”
Bachelet’s decision to step back follows mounting calls for her resignation from critics such as former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.
“Michelle Bachelet, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Council, should be fired for looking the other way on genocide during her Chinese propaganda tour,” Haley tweeted on June 1.
Critics, such as Dr. Adrian Zenz, senior fellow at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, accused the U.N. human rights head of whitewashing China’s genocide after Bachelet said her trip to China had never been intended as an investigation on May 28.
“I should state from the outset what this visit was – and what it wasn’t,” Bachelet said. “This visit was not an investigation – official visits by a High Commissioner are by their nature high-profile and simply not conducive to the kind of detailed, methodical, discreet work of an investigative nature. The visit was an opportunity to hold direct discussions – with China’s most senior leaders – on human rights, to listen to each other, raise concerns, explore and pave the way for more regular, meaningful interactions in the future, with a view to supporting China in fulfilling its obligations under international human rights law.”
The U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner referred The Daily Caller News Foundation to the U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres, who did not respond immediately to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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