A Generation in Peril: The Lives of Tibetan Children Under Chinese Rule

To the United Nations:

On the whole, China's presence on the U.N. Security Council and growing political, military and economic influence internationally have combined to prevent genuine debate over and protection of Tibetans' human rights, including their right to self-determination, at the United Nations. On three occasions since 1950 (in 1959, 1960 and 1965), the U.N. General Assembly issued resolutions, calling for 'respect for the Tibetan people's human rights and their distinctive cultural and religious life,' demanding the 'cessation of practices which deprive the Tibetan people of their fundamental human rights and freedoms, including their right to self-determination,' and deploring the 'continued violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Tibet.' More recently, in the wake of Beijing's crackdown on the peaceful Tibetan demonstrations in the late 1980s, the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minority Rights, a subordinate body of the U.N. Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Human Rights, issued a resolution calling upon the PRC 'to respect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people.'

Since then, China has succeeded in blocking even debate on a resolution in the Commission on Human Rights criticizing its human rights record and, in particular, its record on Tibet. Breaking this silence is critical to improving the human rights circumstances of the Tibetan people and Tibetan children in particular. We therefore recommend that the United Nations and its member states:

-Work to pass a resolution in the General Assembly or the Commission on Human Rights calling upon China to respect the international human rights of the Tibetan people, including their right to self-determination.

-Call upon China to release Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Eleventh Panchen Lama of Tibet, from state custody and demand that international observers immediately be permitted to verify his safety.

-Appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate human rights circumstances in Tibet.

- Allocate additional funds to the U.N. High Commissioner for refugees for the purpose of ensuring the safety and protection of Tibetan refugee children in Nepal and their safe passage to Tibetan exile communities in India and elsewhere.

-The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child should vigorously investigate allegations of systematic violations of Tibetan children's rights in China and scrutinize China's laws and practices that affect Tibetan children in light of the specific guarantees codified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

-The World Health Organization should work with the Chinese government to combat the causes of pervasive growth stunting and abnormally high infant mortality rates among Tibetan children and to ensure that China's immunization and salt-iodization programs reach all Tibetan children.

-UNICEF should establish an office in Tibet specifically to oversee development of programs to address Tibetan children's needs, including working to create a juvenile justice system that complies with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to establish programs to improve Tibetan children's health, nutrition and education.