UN 'bans critics from human rights forum': Dalai Lama excluded after pressure from Peking

THE largest international human rights conference in 25 years, which begins in Vienna on Monday, was overshadowed yesterday by allegations that UN organisers were bowing to demands from governments to exclude critics.

Apparently under pressure from Peking, the United Nations has refused to allow the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, to take part as an official member. The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alois Mock, summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest against the ban. 'The Dalai Lama was invited by the Austrian government, and he is staying here as a guest of the government,' said Mr Mock. 'I summoned the Chinese ambassador and told him this.'

About 16 Sikh and Kashmiri human rights groups based in Britain, the United States and Canada have had invitations to the conference withdrawn, allegedly at India's insistence. The British, US and Canadian delegations yesterday protested to the UN about the decision, which one diplomat described as 'way out of order'. Graham Hand, head of the Foreign Office human rights department, said the delegations had complained that the UN had no authority to exclude the organisations, adding: 'We hope and believe that this will now be reversed.'

The Sikh Human Rights Group, based in Southall, Middlesex, received a letter on 21 May from Ibrahima Fall, secretary-general of the conference, inviting the organisation to participate as an observer. On 2 June, however, another letter, this time signed by John Pace, the conference co-ordinator, said: 'Our letter dated 21 May concerning an invitation to the World Conference on Human Rights was sent to your organisation due to administrative oversight. That letter may now be disregarded.' Jasdev Singh Rai, director of the group, said that when he telephoned Vienna to query the withdrawal, he was told by one of Mr Pace's staff that India had objected to the presence of his and several other human rights bodies.

Mr Pace told the Independent that he had whittled down the number of potential participants from around 18,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Mr Rai's group was among a small number which had been eliminated at a late stage, but whose names had inadvertently been left on a mailing list.

A Western diplomat dismissed this, saying the UN had asked governments for their comments on applications from NGOs based on their soil. 'Western countries all refused to comment, on the grounds that we were not going to bar anyone. The rules are quite clear. There is no discretion for the UN to exclude groups on its own initiative.'

Mr Pace said, however: 'We are trying to put together an environment in which governments can decide how to implement human rights. Certain groups who want to focus on the human rights situation in one country - outfits of a denunciatory nature - are not compatible with trying to achieve a regional or international approach. This is an inter-governmental meeting. We can't focus entirely on governments having to defend themselves.'

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn