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YANG Guang A Brief Discussion on the Meaning of the Right to Peace
September 19,2015   By:chinahumanrights.org

A Brief Discussion on the Meaning of the Right to Peace
YANG Guang

The victory of the Second World War has significant historical meaning: first, people all over the world deeply realized the extreme importance of peace to the survival and development of humankind and thus aroused grand waves of anti-fascist movements in each corner of the world. Second, the victory was also a heavy blow to the fascist power of Germany, Italy and Japan. The world peace was preserved and people’s freedom and dignity were safeguarded. Third, in order to protect humankind from suffering wars again, the major allied countries in World War II jointly initiated and founded the United Nations. The Charter of the United Nations has not only prohibited wars but also made clear that arms are forbidden in international relations. These articles have completely negated a nation’s absolute right of war recognized in traditional international laws.”2 In the current international society, the United Nations has played quite a positive role in maintaining the world peace, easing international tenses, and promoting global economic, scientific and cultural cooperation and exchanges, etc. Lastly, in the Second World War, the Asian and African people have actively participated in the anti-fascist war. They went through many obstacles and considerably raised the national awareness, cultivating potential powers for the following national revolutions. In the national liberation campaigns in Asia and Africa, the third generation of human rights had gradually come into being, which featured the right to peace, the right to development, and the rights to environment and humanitarian aid, etc.

In 1977, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) officially proposed the concept of “the right to peace.” The right to peace refers to people from all nations have the right to stop wars and realize the perpetual security of the international society. The right to peace mainly includes the right to opposing war and the right to peaceful existence. In essence, the right to peace belongs to a kind of human rights with resistance. Wars will wreak havoc on peace and human rights. In order to protect lives and properties, people all over the world have the right to resist the aggression until the war is over and the peace is restored. It is because of the painful lessons learnt from World War II that people gained a further understanding of the right to peace. That is, the right to peace shall be one of the important connotations of human rights and people deserve the right to enjoy peace. The right to peace and other aspects of human rights hold important correlations. First, the right to peace is the guarantee of the right to life. If people want to live, they must have a peaceful social environment. Moreover, the right to peace is the premise and foundation of the right to development. Only under peaceful social environment can people achieve stable development.

Nowadays, the emphasis on the right to peace still has extremely important realistic meanings. In today’s world, the menace of nuclear wars has not yet been eliminated and the conventional and local warfare are incessant; the US-led capitalist countries launched military incursions to other nations under the guise of human rights, creating humanitarian disasters and local turmoil; the Japanese militarism recovered and attempted to deny its invasions of other nations, including China, in World War II, which seriously threatened the peaceful and stable situation in the Asia-pacific region; the terrorist organizations headed by “the Islamic State” carried out terrorism across the world, threatening the safety of people; all these pose a grave threat to the peace and safety of the world.

(The author is Director of Center for Human Rights Studies and Education, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics.)