Effects of Chinese Development Aid on International Human Rights: Analysis of UN Votes (2001-2013)


  • Linnea Maria Dulikravich University of Florida




Belt and Road Initiative, human rights, United Nations, international development


This paper analyzes United Nations voting records of countries that have received substantial aid from China as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Chinese investments have raised concerns, especially in the United States and European Union, because of their size but also because of their lack of political conditionality. Unlike Western aid, which is usually accompanied with demands for democratization, transparency and the rule of law, Chinese investments make no such demands on the host governments. Given China’s lack of respect for human rights, at least in the eyes of the West, there are also concerns that development aid from the BRI might be detrimental for human rights in recipient countries. This study analyzes the voting record of human rights resolutions in the UN from 2001-2013 for states that have received substantial BRI loans. The data shows that recipient countries are likely to align their UN votes with China, but not necessarily to the detriment of human rights. Close analysis of the resolutions passed by BRI partner countries show that most of their votes affirm human rights, which does not support the expectation that Chinese aid has a negative impact on the existing global human rights regime.