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Global Human Rights Governance in the United Nations Arena: China’s Participation and Contribution
July 07,2017   By:CSHRS

Global Human Rights Governance in the United Nations Arena: China’s Participation and Contribution

LUO Yanhua*

Abstract: This paper expounds how China participates in and contributes to global human rights governance from the perspective of its participation in United Nations’ human rights affairs. For more than 70 years since the United Nations was founded, it has done a good deal of work inestablishing the principles and standards for human rights, developing the connotation of human rights, setting up the international human rights treaty system, and reforming the specialized United Nations’ body on human rights, and so on. Since the United Nations was founded, China has been an active participant in and made important contributions to global human rights governance under the framework of the United Nations’ human rights conventions. It has contributed to the establishment of the principles and standards for human rights and the connotations of human rights. It has also actively joined international human rights treaties and conscientiously fulfilled its obligations.

Keywords: global human rights governance ♦China♦ United Nations

 

Global human rights governance is a concept which has become popular recently. However, global human rights governance has existedfor a long time and the United Nations began working on global human rights governance as soon as it was founded. China became involved in this work quite early and has since made important contributions.

I. Human Rights Is an Important Part of Global Governance

Global governance is a concept put forward in the 1990. It refers to the democratic consultation and cooperation among national governments, international organizations, and the citizens of countries all over the world to maximize common benefits and interests. Its core aim is to improve and develop a new international political and economic order that safeguards the security, peace, development, welfare, equality and human rights of all mankind, including the international rules and regulations for dealing with international political and economic issues.1

Global governance includes five main elements, namely the values, rules and regulations, the subject, the object, and the effects of global governance. Among them, the values of global governance are its ideal goal. The rules and regulations of global governance include international principles, norms, standards, policies, agreements, procedures to be applied in adjusting the international relationships and maintaining international order.

The subject of global governance refers to the organization and institutes making and executing the international rules and regulations, which can be divided into three categories: (a) governments, government agencies of nations all around the world and the governmental authorities of sub-states; (b) formal international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and so on; (c) informal international civil society groups.

The object of global governance includes the transnational problems which have influenced or will influence mankind and which can hardly be solved by single nation, instead, they must be solved by the joint efforts of the international community. At present, the scholars of many countries have put forward the following categories of problems to be solved through the global governance mechanism: (a) problems of global security, including armed conflicts between nations or regions, the production and spread of nuclear weapons, the production and transaction of weapons of mass destruction, and rise of non-defensive military forces; (b) problems of biological environment, including reasonable use and exploitation of resources, control over sources of pollution, protection of rare animals and plants, exploitation of international petroleum resources, dumping waste into the sea, trans-boundary emission of air pollutants, international transport of toxic waste, depletion of ozone, loss of biological diversity, over-fishing, the extinction of endangered animals and plants, and climate change; (c) problems of the international economy, including the global financial market, the polarization between the rich and the poor, global economic security, the debt crisis, transnational transportation, and international exchange rates; (d) problems of transnational crimes such as smuggling, illegal immigration, drug dealing, human trafficking, and international terrorist activities; (e) problems of fundamental human rights such as genocide, slaughter of civilians, infection of diseases, starvation and poverty, and injustice of the international community, and so on.2

The effectsof global governance refer to the appraisal of achievements and evaluation of areas where greater efforts are needed.

II. Global Human Rights Governance in the United Nations’ Arena

As an important subject of global human rights governance, the United Nations has done a great deal of work in global human rights governance since it was founded in 1945, including the following aspects:

A. Defining and setting upthe principles, standards and connotationsfor human rights

The fascist violations of human rights during World War II aroused people’s conscience. Consequently, after World War II, the United Nations Charter approved by sovereign nations established the principles of human rights for the first time.

The United Nations Charter was signed in June 1945 and came into effect in October the same year. It is regarded as the first document of international law setting out the principles of human rights andit is an international convention that is legally binding on the member states of the United Nations. It is also the basis for a series of international human rights documents issued by the United Nations.

After the principles of human rights were established, the standards of human rights were gradually defined. As a result, human rights were enriched and developed. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights made in 1948 includes the Preface and thirty Articles. Article1 to Article 21 are mainly about civil and political rights while Article 22 to Article 28 are mainly about economic, social and cultural rights which are also called the second-generation human rights or “positive rights”. The important role of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the international human rights field is beyond any doubt. It is the first international document putting forward the standards of human rights and defining the connotations of human rights for the international community. In the decades since then, with the constant efforts of the developing countries, a series of rights reflecting the desires and demands of developing countries have been gradually recognized by the international community. These rights include the right of national self-determination, the right to development, the right to enjoy a healthy environment, and the right to live in peace, which are basically the collective rights and are also called the third-generation human rights or “joint rights”.

Thus, it is under the impetus of the United Nations that the principles and the standards of human rights are established and the content of human rights have been enriched, which includes not only civil and political rights (the first-generation rights) but also economic and social rights (the second-generation rights), and collective rights (the third-generation rights) as well.

B. Establishing a system of international human rights laws

The establishment of a system of international human rights lawshas been an important contribution of the United Nations to the global human rights governance.

Since the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights failed to properly solve the problems concerning the legal obligations of the member states regarding human rights, the United Nations began to prepare two international covenants on human rights after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated.

It took a long time to draft and revise the international covenants on human rights. But the two international agreements on human rights were finally approved in 1966. In addition to the two covenants, the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was also approved and opened for signatures.

Since the two covenants were drawn up on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they included all the rights provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Only rights to private properties were not included in the two covenants because they were under dispute.3  In addition, the two covenants also provided some rights which were not provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially some collective rights such as the rights of ethnic minority groups, the rights of children, and so on.

The great impact of the two covenants on protection of international human rights lies in their defining the contentof the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the form of law. The two international human rights agreements have indisputable legal effect. They are different from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the legal effect of which has always beendisputed. According to international treaty laws, the contracting states shall strictly perform the obligations set out in the covenantsfrom the date when they ratify them, and contracting states who breach their obligations shall assume liabilities.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are together known as the International Human Rights Charter4,  occupying the core position in international human rights laws. Besides, other post-war human rights conventions are also important parts of the international human rights law. For example, the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted in 1984, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination adopted in 1965, the International Convention on the Prohibition and Punishment of Apartheid adopted in 1973, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women adopted in 1973, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted in 1984, the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted in 1989. In addition, some other important resolutions and declarations adopted by the United Nations have also played important roles in the development of the human rights principles in international law. For example, the Resolution on the People’s and the Nation’s Right to Self-determination adopted in 1952, the Declaration on Independence of Colonial Nations and Peoplesadopted in 1977, the Resolution on the New Concept of Human Rightsadopted in 1977, the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peaceadopted in 1984, the Declaration on the Right to Developmentadopted in 1986, and the Declaration on the Human Environment adopted in 1987.

C. Reforming the specialized United Nations’ human rights agencies

Many bodies of the United Nations such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council are related to human rights. However, the bodies directly involved in the human rights affairs are the agencies in charge of human rights treaties and the specialized agencies of the United Nations in charge of human rights affairs.

The agencies in charge of human rights treaties are those established in conformity with the provisions of core human rights conventions. They are made up of independent experts, and responsible for monitoring the implementation of the international human rights agreements. At present, the United Nations has nine core human rights agreements, and correspondingly, there are nine human rights bodies.

Table 1: Core Human Rights Conventions of the United Nations and their agencies

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It is noteworthythat the United Nations has constantly reformed its specialized body in charge of human rights affairs since it was founded over 70 years ago.

Over those seven decades, the Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the Human Rights Council.And in order to strengthen its capabilities in human rights issues, the United Nations established the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 1993.

1. From the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council

The United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights was established in February 1946 as a specialized agency for handling human rights issues that was subordinate to the Economic and Social Council. It existed for 60 years from its establishment to its replacement by the Human Rights Council. In the international human rights practice for 60 years, the Commission on Human Rights did a great deal of work of promoting and protecting human rights all over the world. At the last conference of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on March 27, 2006, Louis al Boolean, the then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, summarized and evaluated the work of the Commission on Human Rights. She pointed out that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights made important contributions to the following five aspects: (a) publishing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II and establishing the worldwide framework for the promotion and protection of human rights; (b) setting up specific procedures for the protection of human rights and having full-time staff members including independent experts, special rapporteurs, the special representative of the Secretary-General, the special representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, working groups, and so on; (c) taking special actions on some countries including East Timor, Kosovo, Palestine, Rwanda, and so on, among which, the first was South Africa, an apartheid state at the time; (d) establishing the first mechanism for complaints about human rights, namelythe “1503 procedure”; (e) establishing the global forum on human rights dialogue and special ways of cooperating with civil society.5

Although the United Nations Commission on Human Rights made great contributions, there were still some problems. It is those problems that resulted in the “crisis of credibility”, which weakened the existing basis of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and finally led to it being replaced by the Human Rights Council. The reasons of the “crisis of credibility” of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights can be summarized as follows: (a) politicization of human rights issues; (b) double standards on human rights issues; (c) ineffective handling of some important events involving human rights infringements.

In addition to the “crisis of credibility” of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, there was another important reason why it was finally replaced by the Human Rights Council. That is, the principles of human rights did not receive the attention they deserved. Indeed, that can be seen clearly from the institutional setup of the United Nations. It is well-known that security, development and human rights are the three pillars of the United Nations’ work. The Security Council has primary responsibility for dealing with security affairs and the Economic and Social Council deals with development affairs, while the institution in charge of human rights affairs was originally the Commission on Human Rights, which was subordinate to the Economic and Social Council. The setup of the specialized agency is greatly inconsistent with the due status of human rights, which was obviously not the intention of the United Nations. As a result, the specialized human rights body was adjusted and reformed.

The proposal to establish the Human Rights Council was first formally put forward by the then United NationsSecretary-General Kofi Annan at the United Nations General Assembly held in New York on March 21, 2005. In his report to the General Assembly entitled “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All”, he formally proposed establishing the Human Rights Council. His reason for the proposal was: “[t]he comprehensive strategy I was proposing gives equal weight and attention to the three great purposes of this Organization: development, security and human rights, all of which must be underpinned by the rule of law.”6 He proposed that a Council for each of these purposes should co-exist in the United Nations. He also pointed out in his report that the establishment of a Human Rights Council would raise the status of human rights problems, which conformed with the priority of human rights in the United Nations Charter.7

The World Summit in September 2005 approved the proposal to establish a Human Rights Council. The outcome document of the World Summit specifies that: “We resolve to further strengthen the United Nations human rights machinery and to create a Human Rights Council, which will be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedom for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner. The Human Rights Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon. It should also promote effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system.”8

The resolution for the establishment of the Human Rights Council was voted on and passed on March 15, 2006. However, it was a compromise reached by the member states after more than 30 rounds of negotiations and consultationsover nearly half a year. The final solution is far removed from the initial proposal. The Human Rights Council was defined as a subsidiary of the General Assembly rather than a main body. As a result, it does not have equal status with the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, deviating from Secretary-General Annan’s intention to give equal weight and attention to the three purposes of security, development and human rights.

Nevertheless, the establishment of the United Nations Human Rights Council has positive significance. It replaced the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, changing into a subsidiary of the United Nations General Assembly from a functional commission subordinate to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which shows that the position of human rights is enhanced in the United Nations.

2. Creation of the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

At the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, the international community decided to create a post with stronger mandate on human rights with the help of more powerful institutional support. For this purpose, the member states of the United Nations adopted the General Assembly resolution to set up the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (referred to as OHCHR).

The OHCHR, created in accordance with A/RES/48/141, is the top official in charge of human rights affairs, who is of the rank of Under-Secretary-Generaland appointed by the Secretary-General and approved by the General Assembly. He or she is responsible for the Human Rights activities of the United Nations, and the post is for a fixed term of four years with the possibility for renewal for another fixed term of four years. “The OHCHR represents the world’s commitment to the universal ideals of human dignity. We have a unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights.”9

Since the creation of the OHCHR, the person in office has been quite active and played a very important role in the field of international human rights. In September 2005, the United Nations 60thAnniversary Summit Conference adopted the outcome document and decided to strengthen the work of OHCHR. In the following five years, the regular budget of OHCHR was doubled. By the end of 2014, OHCHR had established 12 regional offices or centres of human rights.10  By the end of 2016, it had established 14 country offices.11  In 2014, there were 15 United Nations missions for peace operation and political missions delegated by the United Nations Security Council for promoting, protecting and monitoring human rights.12

III. China’s Participation in and Contributions to the United Nations’ Human Rights Governance

A. China and the making of human rights standards and the development of its human rights concepts

China was not only a founding member of the United Nations but also the first signatory state of the United Nations Charter. China participated in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the fundamental human rights documents. After World War II, the United Nation Commission on Human Rights set up a Special Drafting Committee to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which consisted of three people, including the representative of China — Chang Pengchun (P.C. Chang). In the two-year process of drafting, the draft Universal Declaration of Human Rights was revised six times. As the deputy chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and an important member of the Special Drafting Committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Chang was heavily involved in the drafting work. Relying on Confucianism, he made outstanding contributions to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the process, Chang considered human rights issues from an Asian perspective, made China’s views on human rights acceptable to the representatives of other states, and introduced the ideas of Confucian culture into the wording and phrasing of the provisions in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He believed that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should try to include the ideas of all participating states and that the task of the representatives of member states was not to decrease the discrepancies but to promote tolerance among the ideas of different states. 13 Chang opposed Western-centred human rights, advocating the diversity of ideas about human rights. The US President Theodore Roosevelt’s wife wrote in her reminiscences that Chang was a pluralist, believing that the Universal Declaration Human Rights should not just reflect Western ideology.14 The final text accepted Chang’s suggestions, deleted the expressions about the sources of human rights such as “God” or “natural law”, and precluded the views of other schools of religion. In addition, Chang Pengchun also made contributions to the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Upon the suggestion of Chang and others, the second session of the Commission on Human Rights in December 1947 formally decided to formulate a declaration, a convention and an implementation document at the same time. Such a plan saved valuable time for smoothly drafting such a declaration and submitting it in time to the United Nations General Assembly for a vote. What’s more, among the 30 Articles, the discussion and formulation of 11 Articles are directly related to Chang. Those Articles mainly concern the basis for human rights (Article 1), non-discrimination and equal protection (Article 2 and Article 7), social rights (Article 22 to Article 27), equal participation in politics (Paragraph 2 of Article 21), right restrictions (Article 29), and so on.15

After the founding of New China, due to the influence of the international environment and domestic politics, China seldom participated in international human rights activities until the end of 1970s, when with the implementation of reform and opening up, China changed its attitude towards international human rights activities. In the 1980s, China began to actively participate in international human rights activities and sent representatives to be involved in the drafting work of legal documents on international human rights. For example, China’s representatives participated successively in the working group for drafting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention of the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Declaration of Rights and Obligations of Individuals, Groups and Social Institutions in Promoting and Protecting Universally Recognized Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Declaration on the Protection of National, Racial, Linguistic and Religious Minorities’ Rights. The meetings of those working groups paid much attention to the opinions and amendments put forward by China. Since 1981, China attended all the meetings held by governmental expert groups of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for drafting the Declaration on the Right to Development, and made positive suggestions until the Declaration on the Right to Development was approved and adopted at the 41st United Nations General Assembly in 1986. China also actively supported the global consultation of the Commission on Human Rights about the realization of the right to development and the submission of the right to development as a separate topic to the Commission on Human Rights for deliberation and discussion. China has always been a co-sponsor of the resolutions made by the Commission on Human Rights on the right to development.

In the 1990s, China made great changes to its policies on human rights issues, began to actively participate in international human rights activities with a stronger influence, and made great contributions to the setting up of international human rights standards. In March 1993, a Chinese delegation attended the Asia regional preparatory meeting for the World Conference on Human Rights held in Bangkok and appointed as the deputy chair nation of the first preparatory meeting, the Asia regional preparatory meeting and the World Conference on Human Rights, playing an important role in preparation and success of the World Conference on Human Rights. In June 1993, China’s delegation attended the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, participated in the discussion, draft and formulation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, put forward many constructive suggestions, and made its own efforts for and contributions to the formulation and adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

B. China and the international human rights treaty mechanism

Since the founding of New China in 1949 until now, China has joined 27 international human rights conventions. 16 The process of China’s joining these international agreements shows that China joined the international conventions mainly in the following time periods: in the 1950s, in the 1980s, in the 1990s and after the 21st century. The 1980s is a period of time during which China joined most of the international treaties. During that period, China joined 11 international treaties altogether.17  In addition, the Kuomintang government recognized 14 international labour conventions.18

The reason why China actively joined the relevant international human rights treaties in 1980s was closely related to the change in China’s knowledge about human rights and the change in its domestic policies. After the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of Chinese Community Party, because of the thought emancipation and opening-up policy, China’s communication and exchanges with foreign countries were greatly expanded. In the process, China’s attitude towards human rights issues also greatly changed. China realized that the international human rights rules are a positive factor helping to maintain world peace and promote human progress. As a result, China decided to participate in the international human rights activities.

In order to conduct research on issues related to international human rights activities, China created a collaborative group consisting of many ministries. The topics for research were mainly as follows: policies for participation in international human rights activities; whether to join the important international conventions; China’s fundamental views about some specific human rights issues. Before joining the United Nations Commission on Human Rightsin 1979, China attended the meetings of the Commission on Human Rights as an observer for three years in a row. After on-the-spot investigations and careful consideration, China decided that the advantages of participating in international human rights activitiesoutweighedthe disadvantages. In 1981, China successfully became a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and it has been a full member of the Commission since 1982. The principles and positions of China in participating in international human rights activities at that time were mainly reflected in the following aspects: upholding the development concepts of human rights because the contemporary human rights concepts are different from those of the traditional Western capitalism and feature new content such as the right to national identity, national independence and sovereignty, and so on; making the struggle in the international human rights field move in the direction that is beneficial to anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism, and safeguarding the interests of the third world countries; advocating that the United Nations should focus on discussing issues concerning serious violations of human rights on a large scale; accepting the view of fundamental human rights and opposing the use of human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries; preventing subversion and infiltration against China by Western countries under the disguise of human rights; supporting and participating in international human rights cooperation and exchange activities and performing its required obligations; giving priority to joining the Human Rights conventions against imperialism, colonialism, and hegemonism, and doing research as soon as possible on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political rights.19  It is China’schange of view and the subsequent change of policies that made the 1980s become theperiod in which China joined most of the international human rights conventions.

China ratified four international conventions on human rights in 1950s,20  joined four international human rights conventions in 1990s, 21 and ratified eight international human rights conventions in the 21st century which is another period of time when China has joined many international human rights conventions.22

As to those international human rights conventions that China has joined, China has attached much importance to its obligations, including carefully writing performance reports, being subject to the review of the human rights treaty bodies as scheduled, sincerely accepting the constructive suggestions put forward by the international community, and constantly improving its human rights protection work.

Table 2: Reports Submitted by China on the Implementation of Core Human Rights Conventions
 

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In addition, China also actively recommended Chinese experts participate in the work of the international human rights treaty bodies. Since 1984, experts recommended by China have been successively elected the member or the alternate member of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. For a long period, Chinese experts have been selected as members of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and the Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Table 3: Membership of Chinese Experts in the International Human RightsBodies in 201624
 

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C. China and the specialized human rights bodies of the United Nations

After China restored its lawful seat in the United Nations in 1971, it has actively participated in the work of the United Nations human rights bodies, including sending delegations to attend relevant meetings, keeping constructive cooperation relationships with the specialized human rights bodies of the United Nations, such as the OHCHR and the Specialized Human Rights Mechanism.

Since the start of the 21st century, with the improvement in China’s international status, China’s influence in the international human rights field has been further enhanced. China actively participated in the reform of the specialized human rights mechanism of the United Nations and played a positive role in both the consultation and in the subsequent vote for the United Nations Human Rights Council. China holds that the United Nations Human Rights Council should ensure its representativeness and be a platform for dialogue, exchange and cooperation. It believes the Council should focus on solving the long-standing problem of the crisis of credibility that was faced by the previous United Nations Commission on Human Rights; and it should make just, objective and transparent standards and procedures for deliberation and discussion of issues involving human rights infringements and avoid politicization. While performing its duties and functions, the Council should recognize the diversity of the world, respect the right of the states to the independent choice of their own political system and development path, promote dialogue and communication among states, and encourage jointly exploring ways to effectively promote and protect human rights. All these views put forward by China are shared by the majority of states.

After the establishment of the United Nations Human Rights Council, China has played an important role in it. When the first members of the Human Rights Council were elected by the 60th General Assembly of the United Nations on May 9, 2006, China was elected with 146 votes for a three-year term. When 18 members of the United Nations Human Rights Council were re-elected by the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations on May 12, 2009, China was re-elected with 167 votes to serve a second term from 2009 to 2012. When re-election of members of the Human Rights Council was held by the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations on November 12, 2013, China was re-elected again with 176 votesfor the term from 2014 to 2016. On October 28, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations held the election of its member states, China was re-elected for the fourth time with 180 votes, the majority of the votes, for the term from 2017 to 2019. What is worthy of notice is that the votes for the election of China increased each time: 146 votes (2006), 167 votes (2009), 176 votes (2013) and 180 votes (2016), with the number of votes surging to new highs again and again. The votes for China each time were much more than the two-thirds majority. This shows that China has obtained support from the majority of the states in the international community, which reflects the international community’s high recognition of China. Meanwhile, this is also the approval of the international community both on the performance of China as a member of the Human Rights Council for three terms in a row and on the protection of human rights in China.

As a member state of the Human Rights Council, China performs its duties and functions conscientiously, actively attends all the meetings and participates in all the work of the Human Rights Council, and is subject to the universal and regular review of the United Nations Human Rights Council. China experienced its first and second Universal Periodic Review in February 2009 and October 2011 respectively. While being reviewed, the majority of the states spoke highly of the achievements of China in human rights. China sincerely accepted the other states’ constructive suggestions.

Conclusion

To sum up, although global human rights governance is a concept that has become popular recently, it has existed since the United Nations was founded more than seven decades ago. The United Nations has done a great deal of work to protect and promote human rights over the years, including establishing human rights principles, setting up human rights standards, clarifying the connotations of human rights, creatingthe international human rights treaty system, and so on. From then till now, China has actively participated in the global human rights governance work of the United Nations and made outstanding contributions to this work, as shown by the following: China has not only made contributions to the setting up of human rights standards and the development of the human rights concept, it hasalso actively participated in international human rights conventions, performed its convention obligations, and played an important role in the reform and development of the special human rights bodies of the United Nations. At present, China has put forward the idea of creating a community of shared future for all mankind, which means that China will participate in global human rights governance more actively and will play a more important role in it.

(Translated by LI Yan)

*LUO Yanhua ( 罗艳华 ), professor of the School of International Studies, Peking University.

1Yu Keping, Introduction to Global Governance (PDF), 26, accessed March 18, 2017, Pishu database: http://www.pishu.com.cn/skwx_ps/databasedetail?SiteID=14&contentId=3274428&contentType=literature&type=&subLibID=.

2As to the conceptual analysis of global governance, please see Yu Keping, Introduction of Global Governance, 13-18.

3On the dispute and conflict over the “rights of private property”, see Bai Guimei, Gong Renren and Li Ming, Human Rights in International Law (Beijing: Peking University Press, 1996), 77-78.

4Louis Henkin, “The International Bill of Rights: the Universal Declaration and the Covenants”, in International Enforcement of Human Rights, eds. R. Bernhardt and J. A. Jolowics (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1987). It is also believed that the three documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are regarded as “International Human Rights Charter”, see Pant Sen, Contemporary Human Rights Study Series (Chengdu: Sichuan People’s Publishing House, 1991).

5“Statement by High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Last Meeting of the Commission on Human Rights”, accessed March 18, 2017, http://newsarchive.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=3040&LangID=E.

6Report of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the United Nations General Assembly: “In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All”, March 21, 2005, New York. Website: http://www.un.org/chinese/largerfreedom/sg_statement.html, accessed March 18, 2017.

7United Nations Website, “Report of the Secretary-General —Add. 1— Human Rights Council”, accessed March 18, 2017, http://www.un.org/chinese/largerfreedom/add1.htm.

82005 World Summit Outcome Document, at the United Nations Website: http://www.chinesemission-vienna.at/chn/lhgyl/t227151.htm, accessed March 18, 2017.

9http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/WhoWeAre.aspx, accessed March 18, 2017.

10Regional offices or centers cover East Africa (Addis Ababa), Southern Africa (Pretoria), West Africa (Dakar), Central America (Panama City), South America (Santiago, Chile), Europe (Brussels), Central Asia (Bishkek), Southeast Asia (Bangkok), Pacific (Suva), and the Middle East and North Africa (Beirut). The OHCHR also has a Regional Center for Human Rights and Democracy for Central Africa in Yaounde, Cameroon, and a Training and Documentation Center for South West Asia and the Arab Region in Qatar (Doha). Website of OHCHR, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/Pages/WorkInField.aspx, accessed March 17, 2017.

11These countries are Bolivia, Cambodia, Colombia, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Mauritania, Mexico, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (stand-alone office), Kosovo (Serbia), Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Yemen. Website of OHCHR, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/Pages/WorkInField.aspx, accessed March 17, 2017.

12These missions are located in Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur (Sudan), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo (Serbia), Liberia, Libya, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan. They have their respective special human rights components with nearly 900 human rights officers and support staff. They undertake their tasks through cooperation with other organizations, mainstreaming human rights. Website of OHCHR,
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/Pages/WorkInField.aspx, accessed March 17, 2017.

13See Lu Jianping, Wang Jian and Zhao Jun, “China’s Representative Chang Pengchun and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, Human Rights, no. 6 (2003).

14Eleanor Roosevelt, On My Own (New York: Harper, 1958), 77.

15See Ju Chengwei, “On the Contribution of Confucianism to the New Human Rights Theory: Starting from Chang Pengchun’s Contributions to the Formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, Global Law Review, no. 1 (2011).

16Li Junru, ed., Annual Report on China’s Human Rights No.1 (2011) (Beijing: Social Science Academic Press, August 2011), 34-36.

17The international human rights treaties joined by China’s government during this period are as follows: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, August 12, 1949 (the First Protocol), the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Victims of Non-international Armed Conflict, August 12, 1949 (the Second Protocol), the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment on the Crime of Apartheid, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, the International Convention Against Apartheid in the Field of Sports, and the Convention on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of the Persons with Disabilities.

18They are: the Convention Fixing the Minimum Age for Admission of Children to Employment at Sea, the Convention on the Rights of Assembly and Combination of Agricultural Workers, the Convention Concerning the Application of the Weekly Resting in Industrial Undertakings, the Convention Fixing the Minimum Age for Admission of Young Persons to Employment as Trimmers or Stokers, the Convention Concerning the Compulsory Medical Examination of Children and Young Persons Employed at Sea, the Convention on Equality of Treatment for National and Foreign Workers As Regards Workmen’s Compensation for Accidents, the Convention Concerning Seamen’s Article of Agreement, the Convention Concerning the Repatriation of Seamen, the Convention Concerning the Creation of Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery, the Convention Concerning the Marking of Weight on Heavy Packages Transported by Vessels, the Convention Concerning the Protection Against Accidents of Workers Employed in Loading or Unloading Ships, the Convention Concerning the Employment of Women on Underground Work in Mines of All Kinds, the Convention Fixing the Minimum Age for Admission of Children to Industrial Employment, the Convention Concerning the Amendment to the Final Provisions.

19See Website of China Human Rights, Chen Shiqiu, “China’s Active Participation in International Human Rights Activities for Thirty Years”, accessed March 18, 2017, http://www.humanrights-china.org/cn/xsdt/xscg/t20090121_622875.htm.

20They are: the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

21They are: the Convention Concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on Employment Policy, and the Convention on the Minimum Age for Employment. In addition, on October 28, 1997, during Chairman Jiang Zemin’s visit to the United States, China signed the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. On October 5, 1998, China signed the International Convention on Civilian and Political Rights.

22The international human rights conventions ratified so far this century are: the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, the Convention on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor, the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Additional Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime on the Prevention, Prohibition and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

23This table is formulated by the author based on the information provided on the relative websites of the United Nations Core Human Rights Treaty Bodies as of March 18, 2017.

24Sources of materials: this table is formulated by the author based on the information provided by the relevant organs of the United States, the websites of which are as follows:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CESCR/Pages/Membership.aspx; Membership of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CERD/Pages/Membership.aspx; Membership of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CEDAW/Pages/Membership.aspx; Membership of the Committee against Torture, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CAT/Pages/Membership.aspx, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,http://www.ohchr.org/ch/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/Membership.aspx, accessed March 18, 2017.