China's Contribution to the Drafting of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Its Implications
November 06,2014   By:

To Bridge the Gap of Human Rights Cultures:China's Contribution to the Drafting of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Its Implications?
ZHU Liyu & HUA Guoyu

As one of the foundations for the legitimacy of the Unite Nations, the universal human rights system derives from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Hereafter abbreviated as Declaration). After World War II, the international community formulated the Declaration, the most important international human rights legal document, under the direction of the United Nations based on reflections on brutal aggressive wars and large-scale violations of human rights. The Declaration made a list of the basic rights and freedom human beings are entitled to, and set the goals of human rights different countries should strive to achieve. However, some people often just associate this human rights legal document with western conception on human rights, but ignore other cultural and thought elements in it. In fact, this declaration which benefits people all over the world is produced out of the communication, exchanges and integration of various civilizations across the world. Apart from the western human rights philosophies, the Chinese people, Chinese civilization and its Confucianism have also made a great contribution.
Through studying the history of drafting and passing the Declaration, we can find that Peng-chun Chang, the then Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and vice president of the UN Commission on Human Rights, played a key role in the process. Not only did he facilitate a smooth drafting of the Declaration through peaceful negotiation, but he also applied the Chinese Confusion philosophies in drafting and debate, and helped incorporate them into the document. In other words, he is also a forerunner for trans-cultural human rights exchanges.
In 2008, which witnessed the 60th anniversary of the issue of Declaration, the 61st World Nongovernmental Organizations Annual Meeting was held in France, and the venue was set in the UNESCO Building in Paris. During the meeting, the paintings of main drafters for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were specially placed on both sides of the stage in the venue, including Mrs Roosevelt, Charles Malik, Rene Carson and John Humphrey.   Among them, Peng-chun Chang's painting was put in the second place to the stage on the left, which shows great recognition of the host to this Chinese scholar for his contribution to international human rights legislation. And in the introduction to the drafting committee for the Declaration in the official website of the United Nations, his English name Peng-chun Chang is listed next only to the President of the Drafting Committee, Mrs. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt. He was the only vice president of the committee, and was introduced as follows: Peng-chun Chang, a Chinese representative, vice president of the Commission on Human Rights, playwright, philosopher, educator, diplomat and famous Chinese director of modern dramas. He could explain to other representatives the Chinese human rights conception, resolved many deadlocks during the negotiation by applying the Confucian philosophies creatively and helped reach reconciliation among various conflicting ideologies. He firmly proposed to delete all metaphors about nature and God in the Declaration, upholding that the declaration should be universal.