Press Release: UN Member States Slam China for Coercive Residential Schools System in Tibet at Major Rights Review.

Press Release: UN Member States Slam China for Coercive Residential Schools System in Tibet at Major Rights Review.

January 23, 2024


Lhadon Tethong, Director +1-917-418-4181 (In Geneva)

Gyal Lo, Tibet Specialist +1-647-619-9821 (In Geneva)


Geneva – In a dramatic departure from 2018 when only 9 States made 11 Recommendations on Tibet during the UN Human Rights Council’s last review of China’s human rights record, today 18 States raised Tibet, making 24 recommendations to the Chinese government and slamming China’s assimilationist policies in Tibet [1] during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Six states specifically called for the colonial boarding school system [2] in Tibet to be abolished [3].

Despite the Chinese government’s efforts to lobby countries to praise its human rights record [4], Beijing’s atrocities in Tibet were put front and center of the concerns expressed by Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Estonia, Sweden, Switzerland, US, Austria, Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, France, U.K., Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania, and New Zealand including China’s policy of separating children as young as three years old from their parents and forcing them into a vast system of colonial boarding schools, where children are subjected to intense political and cultural indoctrination and taught in Mandarin, in an effort to supplant their Tibetan identity with a hyper-nationalist Chinese one. The Human Rights Council is the fourth United Nations body since 2022 to express urgent concern over the boarding school system [5].

Lhadon Tethong, Director of Tibet Action Institute, said:

“We applaud the 20 UN Member States who spoke out for Tibet today, and especially Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and the United States for recommending China abolish the coercive colonial boarding school system intended to forcibly assimilate Tibetan children. China thinks it can get away with atrocity crimes, including holding one million Tibetan children in a coercive residential school system designed to stamp out their identity, but today’s UN review shows governments are willing to hold Beijing accountable. The dramatic increase in the number of UN Member States who spoke out for Tibet underscores the existential threat China’s assimilationist policies pose to the Tibetan people.”

Dr. Gyal Lo, a Tibetan scholar and educational sociologist who fled from China to Canada in December 2020 and now works as a Tibet Specialist with Tibet Action Institute, added:

China thinks it can hide it’s genocidal policies in Tibet behind arguments of poverty alleviation and development, but the very strong recommendations made today by multiple States, including the U.S., Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Austria, show China that the world is paying attention, and governments are saying: You must stop. I am heartened to know that Beijing has heard this message, and especially that Tibetans inside Tibet will hear about this and will know their children and their suffering have not been forgotten.”

In addition to the multiple recommendations, a number of countries raised additional substantive concerns about the colonial boarding schools and other human rights abuses in Tibet in their advance questions [6], signaling that these issues are salient to their foreign policy approach to China.

Tibet Action Institute and Tibetan rights groups around the world have been recommending international governments censure China over its colonial boarding school system. Even prior to the UPR, several governments have echoed the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights’ recommendations that China abolish the boarding school system. In August 2023, the United States Department of State announced visa restrictions against Chinese officials involved in the forcible assimilation “of more than one million Tibetan children in government-run boarding schools” [7].


  1. Tibet is made up of the Tibetan provinces of Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang, which the Chinese government split into new administrative divisions in the 1960s: the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and ten Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and two counties. When the Chinese government references Tibet, it is referring only to the TAR, which contains less than half the Tibetan population.
  2. International concern about the colonial boarding school system has been building since a Tibet Action Institute report, released in December 2021, revealed that Chinese government policies are coercing at least three out of every four Tibetan students aged 6-18 – approximately 800,000 – from across historical Tibet into a vast network of colonial boarding schools. See, Tibet Action Institute, Separated From Their Families, Hidden From the World: China’s Vast System of Colonial Boarding Schools Inside Tibet, 2021, pg. 17-21, available at: In addition, more than 100,000 four- to six-year-old children are estimated to be separated from their parents and living in boarding preschools for at least five days a week. See, Tibet Action Institute, Eyewitness: China Operating Mandatory Boarding Preschools Across Tibet, 2022:
  3. The six countries are Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and the United States.
  4. Reuters, Exclusive: China lobbies countries to praise its rights record ahead of UN review – diplomats, January 22, 2024, available at:
  5. On November 11, 2022, four UN Special Rapporteurs issued a communication to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, available at:
    On February 6, 2023, Four UN Special Rapporteurs issued the media release China: UN experts alarmed by separation of 1 million Tibetan children from families and forced assimilation at residential schools, available at:,%2C%20UN%20experts*%20warned%20today.
    On March 6, 2023, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) echoed these concerns and called for China to “abolish immediately the coerced residential (boarding) system imposed on Tibetan children…”, available at: Since then, several governments have echoed the CESCR’s concerns and recommendations.
  6. Questions Submitted in Advance, available at:
  7. Anthony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, Press Statement: Announcement of Visa Restrictions to Address Forced Assimilation in Tibet, August 22, 2023, available at:

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