Day 2 Report 5
Workshops: Digital Security and UN Human Rights Mechanisms
Mr. Luo Shihong, a human rights activist based in Geneva, Switzerland, gave two training workshops in the late afternoon of: 1) Digital Security, and 2) UN Human Rights Mechanisms.
1. Digital Security
In this very practical and important workshop, Mr. Luo explained to the participants the multiple ways they were likely vulnerable online, and concrete steps they could take to give themselves, their colleagues and partners, some added protection online. He gave an overview of the risks and how to add protection on multiple platforms used by most activists, from email to browsing and searches, to video calling and conferencing and messaging platforms. He emphasized that the most important thing was to have “safety consciousness,” i.e., to be aware of, and pay attention to, digital security and risks. Certain programs and apps simply should not be used, Mr. Luo said. He also emphasized that participants should not use anything that was made in China, such as laptops and hardware. These are required by Chinese law to have a “backdoor” through which your information can easily be obtained by the Chinese government.
2. UN Human Rights Mechanisms
Mr. Luo presented a high-level overview of the UN human rights structure and mechanisms, emphasizing the procedures that are most accessible and relevant to human rights activists working on China human rights issues. He also urged the Conference participants to engage with the human rights mechanisms because it is critical for the UN and other countries to hear the voices of those who have suffered human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Without those voices, the only Chinese voice that will be heard at the UN is that of the Chinese government. Luo also described some of the ways the CCP is trying to insinuate itself into the mechanisms and influence other countries to supports it and its agenda.
Luo mentioned the various avenues to make submissions about individual cases and raise human rights abuses, for example, to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, or a variety of different special rapporteurs, such as those on freedom of expression, religious belief, the special rapporteur on torture, etc. He also discussed the treaty-based mechanisms and opportunities to get involved in the treaty body reviews of China, as China comes up for review every several years before treaty bodies which evaluate China’s compliance with its obligations under the various human rights treaties it has ratified, such as the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights, CEDAW, Rights of the Child, etc. There will be at least two opportunities in 2018 for civil society engagement on China: 1) China will be reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for its compliance with the relevant treaty –the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; and 2) China will have its third Universal Periodic Review during the fall of 2018, in which all human rights are on the table.
Mr. Luo provided concrete suggestions for the ways that groups might get involved and directed participants to online resources. He also encouraged participants to explore possibilities of receiving more in-depth training, noting most trainings on UN human rights mechanisms last from one to three weeks.