Tibet Raised and Debated in UN General Assembly for First Time Since 1965

United Nations, NY 8 Feb 2002 (ICT) - The accreditation of a Tibetan NGO to a UN conference became the focus of full General Assembly vote in New York today for the first time since 1965. China objected to the UN's recommendation of accrediting the International Campaign for Tibet, but the matter went for a General Assembly vote when the European Union refused to go along with China's objection.

Out of 189 potential voting nations, 93 voted against accrediting ICT, 44 voted for, 16 abstained and 40 did not vote or were not present. Pakistan and Cuba spoke up on behalf of China's motion. The EU was a aggressive advocate for ICT noting ICT's positive contribution to the UN's World Conference Against racism last year, to which it was accredited.

"We are obviously disappointed that China prevailed on this vote but we are pleased that most of the world's major democracies voted for us or abstained," said Bhuchung Tsering, Director of ICT, who was at the UN for the vote. "We lost this vote but Tibet is squarely back on the international agenda and there to stay," said Tsering.

"Ironically, China itself raised the status of Tibet in the UN General Assembly to its highest level in decades and made the political status of Tibet the focus of the debate," Mr. Tsering continued.

The vote also exemplifies China's growing influence at the United Nations and the incredible sensitivity of China towards the issue of Tibet. "Today's vote is less a reflection of lack of support for Tibet in the UN than a reflection of China's fierce and powerful lobbying force," said Tsering.

China's efforts to block ICT's accreditation avoided a discussion of ICT's qualifications regarding sustainable development in Tibet, and centered on political question of Tibetan independence, even though ICT does not take a stand of the question of independence.

"Though 'splitting Tibet from China' is nowhere in our mandate, the fact that 44 of the world's strongest and most influential democracies voted in support of an issue that China made about Tibetan independence, is encouraging," said John Ackerly, President of ICT.

"China has once again tried to deny a voice to the Tibetan people, but such repressive tactics will never subdue the desire of Tibetans to speak for themselves," said Tsering. "We want to thank all of freedom loving countries who believe that UN conferences should not exclude any people or NGOs who represent them," said Tsering.

Authoritarian countries around the world supported China, including Myanmar, Iraq, Sudan and others. India and Brazil abstained and virtually all of the newly-emerging democracies in eastern Europe voted for ICT's inclusion.

Representatives of ICT intend to go to the World Summit in partnership with other organizations to give voice to Tibetans and discuss sustainable development in Tibet.

China excludes Tibetan NGO from Johannesburg summit

UNITED NATIONS: After fierce lobbying by China, UN members voted 93 to 44 onFriday to bar a pro-Tibetan activist group from the world summit onsustainable development to be held in Johannesburg in August.

Sixteen countries abstained on the vote to reject a proposal by the EuropeanUnion to accredit the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) to theconference. The vote, which split the UN membership along North-South lines,came on the final day of a two-week meeting of the summit's preparatorycommittee.

Although the committee is due to meet again at least once, its chairman EmilSalim told reporters that the decision was final. Salim, an Indonesian,refused further comment, saying he accepted the wish of the majority.

But the director of ICT, Bhuchung Tsering, said "today's vote is less areflection of lack of support for Tibet in the UN than a reflection ofChina's fierce and powerful lobbying force."

Of its 14 immediate neighbours, only India, which abstained, andAfghanistan, which did not take part, failed to side with China. Most of thecountries voting with China did not take part when Beijing made anunsuccessful attempt last year to bar the ICT from the world summit onracism, held in Durban, South Africa. On that occasion, 46 countries were infavour of accrediting the ICT and 37 against.

On Friday, almost every European country supported the EU motion, togetherwith Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. "The fact that 44of the strongest and most influential democracies voted in support of anissue that China made about Tibet's independence is encouraging," ICTPresident John Ackerly said.

Ackerly said that members of the group planned to attend the Johannesburgconference as members of other non-governmental organisations, adding that"this is quite legal and a common thing for NGOs to do".

He said the summit was "a great place to network" and added that the ICT waslikely to take a higher profile in Johannesburg than it would otherwise havedone.

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