Last Thursday, we learned that 43 countries had signed a joint declaration at the UN aimed at guaranteeing China’s respect for the rule of law with regard to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Switzerland had signed it in 2019 and 2020, but this year it has withdrawn its support. Asked by the RTS about this disaffection, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said that Switzerland was currently a “host state for important talks […] the conduct of which is in the interest of the international community ”. In other words, Switzerland is now giving priority to this role, rather than taking the risk of angering China with human rights, especially after having hosted a meeting with senior American and Chinese officials on October 6 in Zurich.
But for the national adviser Nicolas Walder (Greens / GE): “Switzerland is sending a devastating signal, which is equivalent to an approval of the atrocities committed in China. The Federal Council is showing serious negligence in opposing Switzerland’s role as host state to its commitment to human rights. It is not because we welcome a country that it obtains human rights immunity ”.
The Green group will submit a request at the next meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee so that the latter “express its astonishment and its incomprehension with regard to the Federal Council”. For the Genevan this question is not marginal: “We have been talking about human rights in China for two years in the foreign policy committee and soon we will have a discussion if we are in a situation of genocide in Xinjiang”.
At the UN, Xinjiang’s first declaration was signed in 2019 by 23 countries. In 2021, 43 countries have done so, including the United States, Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom or Norway. “By signing this declaration again,” concludes Nicolas Walder, “Switzerland would have been in good company and it would have gone unnoticed. By not doing so, it attracts attention ”. Since the launch of this operation, two countries have given up, Haiti and Switzerland.