Home > PUBLICATIONS & RESOURCES > JOURNAL >

Protecting Human Rights Development with Application of the Rule of Law: From the Perspective of New Development concept
February 15,2017   By:CSHRS
Protecting Human Rights Development with Application of the Rule of Law: From the Perspective of New Development concept
 
ZHOU Xiaojun  ZHANG Ping*
 
Abstract: The rule of law plays an important role in promoting the development of human rights. The five development concept introduced by The Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China carry the connotation of rule of law and play an important role in guiding the promotion of Chinese human rights. The question of how to adopt the five development concept in the process of protecting human rights through the thinking mode of the rule of law is the focus both in the academic circles and among the practical people. This article tries to analyze how to improve Chinese human rights development through the application of the rule of law under the guidance of the five development concept.
 
Keywords:  rule of law; concept of new development; China
 
The concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development introduced by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is significant for guiding the promotion of sustainable and sound economic development in China. The development of economic society, ultimately, refers to the development of human society, since the latter is both the impeller and beneficiary of the development. Some questions, such as how to adopt the new development concept to protect the right to life, and the development, promotion and enhancement of human rights along the path of the rule of law, need to be thought over from today onwards. 
 
I. Methods of the Rule of Law Made by Following the Innovative Principle for Enriching the Connotation of Human Rights Protection 
 
Making innovation is to make innovation in theory, institutions, science and technology, culture and other fields, to remove the existing fetters and shackles in reality and to deeply reform the old systems and the old methods that have obstructed the development of economic society. In scholars’ view, making innovation means that each individual person is the main participant of innovation. Each individual person is entitled to take part in the innovation and each individual should also ensure the development of the capacity for innovation which is the realization of the development value, showing the characteristics of completeness and the subsumption of the development of subject to the large extent.1 If each individual person in society devotes him or herself to innovation, the development of economy should be definitely promoted and the people’s sense of safety, happiness and accomplishment should be ultimately strengthened. 
 
A. The connotation enrichment of human rights protection made by following the innovative principle
 
The development of human rights guided by the new development concept will expand the ways of thinking, provide the methods for promoting the people’s common well being and promote the people’s material and non-material standards. Specifically, the new development concept will accelerate the development of human rights protection in the following ways. 
 
Firstly, innovation in economy will improve the people’s lives. Through the efforts of years, our government has almost solved the problem of inadequate food and clothing in China. However, it should not be ignored that the elements of large population, the relatively poor natural resources, the growing gaps between the rich and the poor people have obstructed the improvement of the people’s lives, especially the people’s lives in poverty-stricken areas to some extent. Applying the development concept of “innovation” as guidance to economic promotion will remove the obstacles created by the elements mentioned above. Firing innovation with new vigor and encouraging people-oriented innovation and entrepreneurship will increase market competition, promote the reform of the supply front; innovating new industrial systems will change the production and growth models and will build modern agricultural, industrial and service industries. And all of this innovation will turn to be the productivity to definitely increase the individuals’ incomes and to promote the individuals’ living standards.  
 
Secondly, making innovation in institutions will protect the people’s political rights. The progress made in the reform of political structure has been universally recognized. For example, the democratic rights and the rights to participation in deliberation of citizens have been notably developed. However, as matters stand, the exercise of the political rights of citizens has not achieved good results.2 The people’s political rights can be further protected by the innovation in institutions made in the following ways: accelerating the transformation of government functions to promote the building of service-oriented government; increasing transparency in government operations to uphold people’s right to stay informed about and to ensure the public power is not abused; and developing mechanism of public participation to advance democracy of decision-making and administration. 
 
Additionally, making innovation in culture, theory and science and technology will improve the quality of people’s lives in different fields and will definitely realize and promote people’s right to life and the right to development. 
 
B. Giving scope to the important role the rule of law plays in protecting the innovative development of human rights
 
The application of innovative concept to the promotion of human rights protection must abide by the rule of law. Otherwise, the whole economic society would consequently lose its good order. The following are the requirements made by the rule of law which has the characteristics of constraint, standardization and stability.  
 
Firstly, promoting human rights protection, guided by “innovative concept”, must be carried out on the right track of the rule of law. The innovation, no matter whether it is the innovation in institutions or innovation in science and technology, must follow the basic principles of the constitution and keep the basic spirit of law and must avoid the conflicts between innovation and the rule of law for fear that the rule of law would be wantonly ruined. 
 
Secondly, some innovative results can be introduced into law. In practice, if some methods for reforms have played an active role in human rights protection and have been proved to be well-functioning, they should be established through law-making, regulations and rules, and should be widely spread as good experiences. Undoubtedly, if those established methods can not be applied to the new situations of social development, then more new innovation will be introduced. This is an evolution that follows a “negation of negation” mode, spiraling upward. 
 
Thirdly, it should be prudent to introduce innovative results into law. We should carefully deal with the relations between the creativity of innovation and the stability of law and should not aimlessly introduce all the innovative results into law for fear that frequent changes would be made in law. 
 
II. Methods of the Rule of Law Made by Following the Coordination Principle for Balancing the Right to Life and the Right to Development 
 
Keeping coordination means keeping balance between parties in interest on the whole, which is to avoid profit distribution unbalancing in the development of economic society. According to Declaration on the Right to Development passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, states should undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development and shall ensure, inter alia, equality of opportunity for all in their access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing, employment and the fair distribution of income. Appropriate economic and social reforms should be carried out with a view to eradicating all social injustices. See Section 1 of Article 8 of Declaration on the Right to Development. To be guided by the coordination principle, the achievement of right to life and right to development of each person will be ensured under the circumstances of equality and justice. 
 
A. The balance between right to life and right to development kept by the coordination principle
 
It cannot be denied that to some extent that economic society in China is not well-balanced. This economic unbalancing has consequently affected people’s lives and development. The following are the functions the coordination principle performs as guidance in the promotion of human rights protection in China.  
 
Firstly, developing economy with coordination will narrow the gaps between the rich and the poor and will satisfy people’s needs of lives and development. Since the reform and opening-up, the economy of China has been growing. However, it can not be ignored that the gaps between the rich and the poor have also been growing, especially the gaps between the rich urban people and the poor rural people. Statistics show that the incomes of urban people are three or four times higher than that of rural people.3 If economy is developed with coordination, it needs to “improve industrial structure, promote the balanced development between regions and advancing urbanization, promote the harmonized development of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization, promote balanced the development between ethical progress and material progress, and to work constantly to make development more rounded and coordinated.”4 Those proposals are of great importance to narrowing the gaps between the rich and the poor, integrating urban and rural development, promoting balanced development between regions and advancing urbanization, and, ultimately, improving living standards of people.
 
Secondly, promoting balanced development between ethical progress and material progress will satisfy the cultural and material needs of people. The report of the Fifth Plenary of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposed that we should promote balanced development between ethical progress and material progress, develop ethical and moral education and social integrity, enhance the awareness of state, the rule of law and social responsibilities, foster respect for science and advocate traditional Chinese virtues.5 The ideas are of great importance to avoid unbalanced development in economy and culture and to avoid uncoordinated development in material and ethical areas. 
 
Thirdly, promoting balanced development between making “the country prosperous” and “the armed forces strong” will satisfy the needs of country and people for the security. The report of the Fifth Plenary of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposed that in addition to making the promotion of economic development, we should attach great importance to strengthening national defense, giving consideration to both development and security, increasing unity between the military and the civilians and harmonizing relations between the military and the civilians. Such strategies for development are most vital for increasing the sense of security of people. 
 
B. Giving scope to the important role that the rule of law plays in protecting the coordinated development of human rights
 
The rule of law is the intrinsic requirement for implementing the coordinated development principle. In practice, the problems of the uncoordinated economic development, the unbalanced development between regions and advancing urbanization, the uncoordinated development between economy and society, and the disharmony between resources and environment and economic society can all be traced back to the problem of the absence of the rule of law. 
 
In modern times, one of the most important values of the rule of law is the order of the rule of law. The requirement of the rule of law is characterized as “applying rules to dealing with affairs”, which means in the society of the rule of law, all the social relations are arranged by law and people’s rights and obligations are regulated by law. If each person follows rules and regulations to do things, there will be stable social order and there will not be unbalanced interests. In this sense, one of the most important values of the rule of law is to keep the social development in a good order and to try to avoid “disorder” and “disharmony”. Fairness and justice, which are the two main characteristics of the rule of law, require that in the development of economic society much importance should be attached not only to efficiency, but also to fairness, and that the coordinated and sustainable development between human and society and human and nature should be promoted by the establishment of relevant systems, such as the systems of social security and environment protection. 
 
III. Methods of the Rule of Law Made by Following the Green Principle for Improving Living and Development Environment 
 
To be green means to protect the ecological environment, to conserve resources and to reduce pollution. To have green development, we must continue to follow the environmental protection principles to bring about a fundamental change in the way resources are utilized and to take integrated steps to control water, air and soil pollution. Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, pointed out in The Road to Dignity by 2030 that the new development agenda must ensure the millennium development goals will be the universal, transformative and sustainable development agenda. Obviously, the green development concept have been accepted by the people around the world. If the development is guided by the green principle, better living environment will be created and natural conditions will be provided for people to have suitable and livable spaces.  
 
A. The improvement in conditions for life and development made by the green principle
 
Applying the green principle to the development and protection of human rights will conserve the limited resources and satisfy the needs of lives of this generation, even the needs of lives of the next generations. If this generation makes development in an extensive mode, a great waste of resources may be caused. If the limited resources are excessively wasted, the right to development of the next generations will definitely be infringed. According to the green principle, each country and each person should produce products and make consumption in a sustainable mode that may bring about the growth of economy. “We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.” 6 Advocating and implementing the green principle and building a resource-conserving environment will play an important role for protecting each person’s sustainable development rights.  
 
Applying the green principle as guidance to develop and protect human rights will protect the environment and make all people to release their potential abilities with dignity in a sound environment. The improvement of green development of society requires all the people in our country to be united as one, to make great efforts to improve and better the ecological environment and to continue adopting the basic state policy of environmental protection so as to form a new pattern, where harmonious development should be made between human and nature. The measures that are being carried out currently in China have played a suitable role in protecting the environment, such as low-carbon development, circular development, investigating and affixing administrative and criminal penalties for environmental pollution, launching projects for restoring mountains, rivers, forests, fields and lakes and increasing landscape engineering activities, and so on. Therefore, applying the green principle as guidance is very necessary for bettering people’s living environment and living conditions. 
 
B. Giving scope to the role the rule of law plays in protecting the green development of human rights
 
Green development is inseparable from the guidance and restraint of the rule of law. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, pointed out that “only when the strictest systems are operated and the most elaborate rules of law are implemented, can protection be provided for making ecological progress.”7 Nowadays, we have made and implemented series of measures of the rule of law for improving environmental protection. Firstly, in the area of legislation, a legal system that is relevant to environmental protection has been initially established. In the constitution and relevant laws, administrative regulations, local legal regulations and rules, there are provisions particularly made for solving environmental problems. Secondly, in the area of law enforcement, the systems, mechanisms and measures that are relevant to environmental protection are being established. For example,   systems for investigating and affixing responsibilities have been established by relevant departments to address acts that have been committed blindly without considering the environmental conditions and that have caused environmental destruction. To the matter of environmental protection, no one is permitted to transgress the bounds; otherwise he should deserve a punishment. Thirdly, in the judicial area, the systems of investigating and affixing criminal responsibilities for the criminal acts that have caused ecologically environmental destruction have been established. In Section 6 of Chapter 6 of Criminal Law, there are crimes particularly named “crimes of impairing the protection of environment and resources”, aiming to punish the acts that have caused environmental pollution and that have been committed to illegally deal with solid waste. Such provisions in law hold the units or individuals responsible for having caused ecologically environmental destruction. All in all, the rule of law provides an indispensable line of defense for ensuring the protection of ecological environment and it is the bottom line for further standardizing green development. 
 
IV. Methods of the Rule of Law Made by Following the Opening Up Principle for Expanding Areas for Economic Activities 
 
To open up means to conform to the trend in which the economy of our country has incorporated into the international economy. For implementing the principle of opening up development, we should deepen the opening up, actively take solid steps to promote strategic reassurance, trade cooperation as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges in order to form a new pattern of mutually beneficial cooperation. The term of “opening up development” put forward at The Fifth Plenary of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China embodies and enriches the connotation of the concept introduced by Declaration on the Right to Development, which are about “mutual interest and cooperation among all States” and “the rights to mutual benefits”.8 Applying the opening up principle as guidance will ensure the Chinese people’s equal rights to participation in governance as well as participation in the global economy that is aiming to obtain mutual benefit and will also further improve Chinese people’s right to development. 
 
A. The expansion of the areas for economic activities made by following the opening up principle 
 
Applying opening up concept as guidance will ensure us to absorb the fresh energy in economic development home and abroad and will bring about the new vigor to market economy of China and expand the areas for Chinese people’s economic activities, with the result that people’s material and ethical lives will be enriched to a large extent. When applying the opening up principle to the improvement of human rights protection, efforts can be made in the following ways. 
 
Firstly, the opening up of the market economy of China should be further deepened. The report of the Fifth Plenary of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party pointed out that the coastal areas should be encouraged to participate in global economic cooperation and competitions, which has provided a policy support for the further opening up of the coastal areas. As a result of the series of the reforms of the supply front, the competitiveness and the influence of the products made in China will be increased and the development of the economic cooperation zones along the border and the economic cooperation zones across the border will all be promoted. 
 
Secondly, the procedures of international communication will be simplified. Creating an international and convenient trade environment is of great importance to attracting foreign investments and to opening up a prospect for obtaining mutual benefits in international trade. Based on the opening up principle, we should improve the service trade system, increase the cooperation between inland areas and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and actively participate in the development of economic globalization, which are significant for promoting the internationally economic cooperation. 
 
Thirdly, the establishment of the new order of international economy should be further improved. What the opening up principle emphasizes is that fairness and mutual benefits allow each country to more easily obtain development opportunities and international treatment, which plays an active role in helping countries obtain the mutual benefits and establish an interest community. 
 
B. Giving scope to the role the rule of law plays in protecting the opening up development of human rights
 
It is a great time for opening up development, but it is also a period for showing social conflicts and transformative interest patterns. Applying the thinking mode of the rule of law and the measures of the rule of law to the protection of the opening up in a new environment is an effective method to implement the opening up development principle. Through the enhancement of the rule of law, the rights of our State and people will be ensured and protected in the process of opening up. 
 
Firstly, it will help us to make our voices heard in system-making. Under the circumstances of rapid development in politics, economy and military force, more voices of China are heard in system-making in international society, but even more voices need to be clearly heard. Thanks to the efforts made by the government, enterprises, professional legal personnel, and think tanks, the establishment of the government of the rule of law is being accelerated, a good environment of the rule of law is being created, the globalization of Chinese economy is being promoted, all of which have guaranteed that more voices of China will be heard in system-making. 
 
Secondly, it will help relate Chinese law to international regulations. When being faced with foreign legal systems, the policy that China has been adopting is to recognize the current international regulations on the whole. However, in terms of the unreasonable parts of the international regulations, China will take a clear-cut stand to put forward its own proposals. When increasing international competitions and cooperation, we should actively relate Chinese law to current international regulations and make efforts to clear up the unnecessary friction caused by different systems. On the other hand, we should strictly carry out the principles for law-based governance and make great efforts to establish a more transparent and suitable environment for the rule of law.       
 
V. Methods of the Rule of Law Made by Following the Shared Development Principle for Pursuing Equal Right to Development 
 
The principle of shared development is the foothold of the five development concept, which means that the development results are shared by all the people, with the result that the unity of people will be strengthened and that prosperity for all over time will be ultimately achieved. The document of Declaration on the Right to Development pointed out that States should undertake, at the national level, all necessary measures for the realization of the right to development and life. See Section 1 and 3 of Article 2 of Declaration on the Right to Development. Similarly, the principle of “shared development” put forward at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China aims to ensure the development results should be shared by people, the purpose of which is to build a moderately prosperous society for all the people in all respects. This principle is to improve people’s lives and to ultimately achieve prosperity for all over time.  
 
A. The pursuit of the right to equal participation and the right to equal income set by shared development principle
 
Equal participation in social activities, such as in politics and economy, and equal benefit gaining are what human have been tirelessly pursuing. The realization of shared development and the application of shared development concept to human rights protection will function in the following ways in the process of such pursuit.  
 
Firstly, it may focus on solving the problem of poverty. Nowadays, to some extent, the problem of poverty still exists in some rural and western areas and minority nationality regions. This so-called poverty has two types. One is named as absolute poverty, which refers to the status of income of an individual or a family is not enough to afford the basic needs of life. In this type of poverty, food and clothing are the problems needed to be solved. The other type is named relative poverty, which refers to the income gaps between different levels of society or between the numbers of one level of society. In this type, the life equality of one party who has lower income is lower than the other party who has higher income. The development guided by the shared development principle will take poverty eradication projects as a principal goal, aiming to support impoverished people and impoverished families, to ensure more equal distribution and to eradicate absolute poverty and relatively poverty to a certain extent. 
 
Secondly, it may greatly improve the public service and better the systems of social security. The development under the guidance of the shared development principle will increase people’s material living standard and ethical living standard in the following ways. Aiming to the old people, women and children staying at rural areas, relative service systems should be established so as to bring happiness to those vulnerable groups. The basic healthcare systems and modern healthcare and administration systems that cover urban and rural areas should be established, the system of critical illness insurance for urban and rural residents should be fully operated, and the difficulties of having medical service and the problems of high expense in medical care should be solved. More money should be raised for social insurance funds and the system of placing basic pensions under unified national planning should be established, with a result that people will have no worries behind. 
 
Thirdly, it may solve the problems of unequal access to education and the problems of employment. The unequal access to education will be limited by carrying out a series of measures, such as promoting compulsory education, improving the quality of education, gradually remitting tuition and fees to secondary vocational education, and increasing subsidies to students from poor families. The measures of same work with different payment will be gradually abolished and various problems of employment will be solved by the steps of encouraging creating new business, supporting people in pursuing careers in an entrepreneurial spirit, and improving the treatment of skilled workers. These steps are carried out for implementing the shared development principle and for eradicating inequality in society. 
 
B. Giving scope to the role the rule of law plays in protecting the shared development of human rights  
 
To promote the shared development, the supplies to public service are needed to be increased, the abilities of establishing public service with joint efforts and the standards of shared service are needed to be increased and the security systems of socialism with Chinese characteristics are also needed to be improved so that social fairness and justice will be safeguarded. However, the accomplishment of all of these matters relies on the protection provided by the rule of law. 
 
Our government may use the experience and the measures of social security of other developed countries for reference and then combine them with the reality of our country to further improve the social security systems, to improve the social assistance system that is suitable for the development level of economic society, to protect people’s right to education and right to work that are written in the constitution as the right to life and development, to improve people’s living environment, to increase people’s sense of happiness and accomplishment, to carry out more progress of poverty and to ensure the operation of the relevant legal systems of social security, and ultimately, the basic fairness and justice of society will be kept and the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be completed. 
 
VI. Summary
 
To improve innovative development, coordinated development, green development, opening up development and shared development means to have the courage to keep forging ahead with determination and taking on heavy responsibilities to accelerate the transformation of economic structure, to accelerate the reform of supply front, and to overcome all difficulties to maintain sustained and sound development of economy. In the process of the development, the role that the rule of law plays should be to protect and escort the development, providing basic security systems for this development. On the other hand, the five development concept carry rich connotations of the rule of law. By adopting the five development concept, the connotation of the rule of law will be further enriched, which in turn will force the principles of the rule of law to discard what has outlived its time and to develop more new ideas. The correlation between the five development concept and the rule of law is of very importance to guiding and protecting the development of human rights in China. For this reason, under the circumstances of the law-based governance, we must promote the sound and orderly development of human rights in China with the application of the five development concept through the thinking mode of the rule of law.  
 
(Translated by Li Xing)
 
* ZHOU Xiaoju (周晓军), Director of the Teaching and Research Department of Law, Party School of  CPC Committee of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region; ZHANG Ping (张苹), lecture of Teaching and Research Department of Law, Party School of CPC Committee of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
1. Wang Xigen, Zhu Lin, “New Methods for Realizing the Right of Development in the New Normal,” Theoretical Exploration, No.1 (2016).
2. Dong Heping, “Some Thoughts on the Issues of Human Rights Protection in China,” Law Science, No. 9 (2012).
3. See Feng Hua, “The People’s Daily focusing on the Gap between the Rich and the Poor in China: How Big the Gap Is?” The People’s Daily, January 23, 2015.
4. See Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Committee of Chinese Communist Party, “The Proposals for Thirteenth Five-Plan for Economy and Social Development.”
5. See Communiqué of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee (October 29, 2015).
6. The UN Sustainable Development Summit, Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, September 25, 2015.
7. See “At the sixth collective study meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping emphasized that we should adhere to the state policies of resource conservation and environmental protection and strive to usher in a new era of socialist ecological progress,” The People’s Daily, May 25, 2013.
8. Chang Jian, “Rich and Deep Understanding of the Right to Development Provided by Five Development Concept”, at Xinhua Net, http: //news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2016  03/10/c_128786913.htm (last visited on April 10, 2016).