Academic Research in China on National Human Rights Institutions
September 11,2014   By:CSHRS

Zhang Wei

I. Symposium on National Human Rights Institutions and Research Topics

Academic research in the Chinese mainland on national human rights institutions started in February 2003. From October 16-17, 2004, the China University of Political Science and Law organized an international symposium in Qingdao, Shandong Province, on research about national human rights protection institutions, inviting experts from Australia, South Africa and Canada to brief the symposium on related information concerning the Asia-Pacific region and South Africa as well as to provide information about Canada’s National Human Rights Commission. Chinese participants also discussed the possibility of establishing a national human rights organization in China.

Based on the viewpoints expressed at the 2004 Qingdao symposium, quite a few participants had some misconceptions about the nature of national human rights institutions. For example, some experts regarded such institutions as being the same as parliamentary human rights committees. Analyzing the Paris Principles, which includes the principle on national institutions for promoting and protecting human rights, we find that the functions of parliamentary human rights committees have many limitations and do not have extensive power to promote and protect human rights. For example, those institutions certainly do not engage in human rights education. Meanwhile, government agencies for human rights protection are not the national institutions referred to in the Paris Principles because such agencies cannot be independent of the government. In an ideal situation, if the government sets up a dedicated agency in addition to a parliamentary committee and if there is a legally established national human rights institution, the protection of human rights in a country will be greatly improved.

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