China is pushing to cut United Nations funding for human rights monitoring posts in Africa, according to diplomats speaking to New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW).

China’s negotiators at the UN budget negotiations are pushing to cut 19 human rights experts in the Central African Republic, diplomats who spoke anonymously said. One told HRW that doing so would effectively end the UN’s ability to monitor violence against women and children in the country.

Photo: UN/Marie Frechon.

Beijing representatives are also pressing for funding cuts to missions in Mali and South Sudan that could affect human rights monitoring, and to defund human rights posts at the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, diplomats said.

Violence and instability has killed hundreds of people and displaced over a million in central Congo since last August, according to the UN. In March, two UN experts were murdered while investigating large-scale human rights violations in the region.

The UN’s administration and budgetary committee held a session in May to deal with administrative and budgetary aspects of UN Peacekeeping. Based on the committee’s reports, the General Assembly considers and approves the UN budget. The General Assembly will negotiate the peacekeeping budget from July 1 to June 30, 2018.

In a statement made to the budgetary committee of the General Assembly, Chinese representative Fu Daopeng called for a “practical, scientific and prudent approach” in formulating the peacekeeping budget.

“We support providing peacekeeping operations with necessary financial resources to ensure an active role of the UN in maintaining international peace and security, and we are not in favor of either an arbitrary reduction of the budget, nor an impractical increase of the budget,” Fu said.

China is expanding its role in UN peacekeeping. It is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, and the largest contributor to peacekeeping forces among the five permanent Security Council members, with about 2,600 troops currently serving in ten areas including Mali, the DRC and South Sudan. Xi Jinping pledged to raise the number of troops to 8,000 in 2015.

US President Donald Trump has proposed slashing around US$1 billion (HK$7.7 billion) from UN peacekeeping funding.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.