After criticism of China, UN rights chief refuses second term

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UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet indicated on Monday that she would not seek a second term, the surprise announcement following a broad speech before the Geneva-based Human Rights Council .

Bachelet made a trip to China last month for which she was criticized by rights groups as well as some Western governments, including the United States, who said the conditions imposed by Chinese authorities during the visit did not allow for a full and independent assessment of the rights environment.

“As my term as high commissioner draws to a close, the landmark 50th session of this council will be the last I brief,” she said, without giving a reason.

Some diplomats have said they expect Bachelet, a former president of Chile considered close to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to stay after her term expires later this year. There were murmurs in the Geneva Council Chamber when she made the announcement.

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In the same speech, she said her office was working on an updated assessment of the human rights situation in the western region of Xinjiang, where there are numerous allegations that most Muslim Uyghurs have been illegally detained, abused and forced to work.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends an event at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, November 3, 2021.
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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends an event at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, November 3, 2021.
(Reuters/Denis Balibouse/File)

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China denies all accusations of abuse in Xinjiang.

“It will be shared with the government for factual comments before publication,” she said of her report, without giving a timeline.

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