Global Allies join Canada in a joint statement against hostage diplomacy

Nearly 800 days after Chinese authorities kidnapped Michael Covrig and Michael Spavor, the Canadian government secured the support of 57 other countries for a joint condemnation of hostage diplomacy, but without promising to take action against countries that detain foreign nationals as a diplomatic tool.

Canada’s closest allies joined the Caribbean and African countries and opponents of the Kremlin and the European Union in signing a declaration against arbitrary detention in interstate relations. They said that such arrests endanger travel and trade, which are so important to the global economy.

Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said on Monday that the statement “seeks to put pressure on states that do so, to inform them that it is totally unacceptable and that there may be consequences for countries that ignore them.” He avoided calling China directly, although Ottawa has consistently accused Beijing of arbitrarily detaining Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spafor, who were both imprisoned while China is demanding the release of Huawei leader Meng Wanzhou.

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An encouraging example, Garneau said, is the Canadian campaign that eventually led to an international treaty on anti-personnel mines. But a quarter of a century after the treaty was signed, China, Russia and the United States have yet to sign. Likewise, China, Russia and Iran – all accused of hostage diplomacy – did not sign the declaration.

However, Washington provided its official support, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, “The fact that many countries support this declaration is a sign of their strength.” He said that humans “are not a bargaining chip.”

The question remains as to whether countries can be persuaded to take the rhetoric to act against those who practice hostage diplomacy, especially if they have economic power, such as China. Many western countries have criticized Beijing, for example, for its policy toward the Uyghur minority in the western region of Xinjiang. But outside the United States, there has been largely a reluctance to take meaningful action.

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Canada itself did not take any direct action against China to arrest Mr. Covrig and Mr. Spavor, and refused to punish Chinese officials or respond in kind when Beijing initially banned imports of some agricultural products.

Amal Clooney, a spokeswoman at the International Bar Association’s Institute for Human Rights, who spoke at the hypothetical launch of the declaration, “We need democracies to talk more about the principles they defend, more persistent in defending them and more united to do so.” Monday.

“This statement should be supplemented with coercive measures to give her a bite, so that arbitrary arrest leads to tangible consequences that protect and punish detainees,” he said, suggesting financial and travel penalties against those responsible.

The statement also does little to define hostage diplomacy, which has allowed some in China to alter the text in favor of China, even before it was published.

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Beijing accused Canada of arbitrarily detaining Ms. Meng, who is fighting extradition to the United States on charges of fraud, and “the so-called statement” looks more like a “confession” admitting Canada’s wrongdoing in Meng’s case “Lu Xiang, researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global newspaper Times, led by the Communist Party on Saturday. The newspaper, whose truncated text does not always reflect official opinions, cited experts who say that the diplomatic announcement of the hostages amounts to “an aggressive and reckless attack aimed at provoking China.”

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa described Canada as “hypocritical and despicable” for its leadership in the statement. On the other hand, the Canadian side claims to uphold the rule of law and oppose arbitrary detention. On the one hand, it acts as a partner of the United States and is helping the United States use Meng Wanzhou as a bargaining chip to suppress Chinese companies, “the embassy said. Describing China as a” state of law “that has arrested Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor for undermining China’s national security. The Chinese authorities have provided no evidence. Based on these allegations; in 2014, State Security arrested Canadian Kevin for raids for similar violations based on photographs he took, including a bridge that is a popular tourist attraction.

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The same human rights organizations accused some of the signatories of the declaration of practicing unfair detention. “If governments remain silent when their allies arbitrarily detain people, that undermines the fight against all forms of arbitrary detention,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. It singled out the United States for its continuing detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and Israel, which was accused of detaining hundreds of Palestinians on the basis of administrative detention orders without charge or trial.

Nonetheless, the number of signatories to the Canada-led declaration reflects a growing global frustration with authoritarian tactics and growing concern about what China’s rise to power might mean for the international system, the postwar period, and the institutions they supported for it. Mark Brantley, Saint Kitts and Nevis’ secretary of state, said the statement amounted to “the beginning of a growing defense alliance”.

Small states “depend on the rule of international law. Therefore, any effort that upholds international law and promotes international standards is another welcome level of protection, “said E. Paul Chet Green, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda.

Foreign Minister Maris Payne said Australia, which has also accused China of taking its own citizens hostage, intends to “work with our international partners to counter this harmful activity.” However, Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricc warned that “for this initiative to succeed, we need as many signatories as possible.”

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Among the most vocal supporters of the declaration are the countries in conflict with Russia. “We believe that a lot can be done in this area through cooperation between states, so that our citizens are free from such chaos,” said David Zalkaliani, Georgia’s foreign minister. He accused Russia of using arbitrary detention as a “tool of instability”.

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Dmytro Kulepa, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said that Russia has arrested and imprisoned about 100 Ukrainians for political reasons. To make the change, he said, “We have to unite and talk out loud.”

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