To deter genocide, the UN must call it by its name

FILE - In this image from video, Zumret Dawut, a Uighur from China's western Xinjiang region who forcibly sterilized for having a third child after being released from a Xinjiang detention camp, looks at documents at her home in Woodbridge, Va., on Monday, June 15, 2020. For Dawut and other camp survivors who spoke out, the U.N.'s report on the mass detentions and other rights abuses against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang was the culmination of years of advocacy, and a much-welcome acknowledgement of the abuses they say they faced at the hands of the Chinese state. (AP Photo/Nathan Ellgren, File)

August’s much-anticipated, and highly critical, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on the Chinese Communist Party’s horrific atrocities toward the Uyghur people demonstrated the fallacy of “never again.”

Beyond local protests and high-level platitudes, China has been allowed to continue its “crimes against humanity” with impunity, at the same time evading a damning and embarrassing, but much-deserved, Human Rights Council debate about the ongoing situation in Xinjiang.

This is in large part due to the report refraining from using the word “genocide” in regard to the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority who have lived in the western stretches of China for more than six centuries. Pressure from the People’s Republic of China, including against the U.N. representatives themselves, ensured the report remained ambiguous, despite its text pointing to evidence confirmed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and others who have been unafraid to use the “G” word to the Chinese Communist Party’s face.

China used its trademark wolf warrior diplomacy to terminate the conversation on the global stage with the Human Rights Council vote tally coming in with 19 against, 17 for, and 11 abstentions. If the U.N. itself is unable to stop, or at the very least agree on what constitutes atrocity crimes in the 21st century, then the question must be asked: Is the U.N. the right institution for today’s world, or has it outlasted its usefulness? After all, its formation was in response to this very issue 80 years ago, the Holocaust.