Human Rights with 'Chinese Characteristics'? Relativizing Human Rights by Eliminating Accountability
Professor of Law and Global Affairs
Liu Institute Faculty Fellow
Are public condemnations and the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics effective? While the international community’s institutions to deter, investigate, and protect human rights are often thought to be universally accepted, Chinese relativism casts them as “Western imperialism."
Within this framework, how do states respond to China’s repressive actions and intentional lack of transparency? Desierto will discuss China’s authoritarian approach to human rights law through the lens of relativism. This relativism enables China to isolate its continuing repressive actions (in relation to Hong Kong, the Uighur communities, Tibet, its Zero COVID policy, the Olympics, among others) from the international system, and to depict any external accountability efforts for human rights violations as infringements on China's sovereignty.