Active Participation in International Human Rights Activities(1991)
March 18,2018 By:
China recognizes and respects the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations related to the protection and promotion of human rights. It appreciates and supports the efforts of the UN in promoting universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and takes an active part in UN activities in the human rights field. China advocates mutual respect for state sovereignty and maintains that priority should be given to the safeguarding of the right of the people of the developing countries to subsistence and development, thus creating the necessary conditions for people all over the world to enjoy various human rights. China is opposed to interfering in other countries' internal affairs on the pretext of human rights and has made unremitting efforts to eliminate various abnormal phenomena and strengthen international cooperation in the field of human rights.
In April 1955, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signed the "Draft Final Communique of the Asian-African Conference" (also known as the "Bandung Declaration") at the Asian and African Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia. The communique declared that the conference fully supports the fundamental principles concerning human rights laid down in the UN Charter, and made the "respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations" the first of the ten principles of peaceful coexistence. In May of the same year, Zhou Enlai, speaking at an enlarged session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said that "the ten principles contained in the Bandung Declaration also include respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.... All these are the principles that have been consistently advocated by the Chinese people and adhered to by China."
In his speech during the general debate at the 41st session of the United Nations General Assembly held in 1986, the Chinese foreign minister, when mentioning the 20th anniversary of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, pointed out that "the two covenants have played a positive role in realizing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter concerning respect for human rights. The Chinese government has consistently supported these purposes and principles." In September 1988, the Chinese foreign minister pointed out in his speech at the 43rd session of the United Nations General Assembly that the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" is "the first international instrument which systematically sets forth the specific contents regarding respect for and protection of fundamental human rights. Despite its historical limitations, the Declaration has exerted a farreaching influence on the development of the post-war international human rights activities and played a positive role in this regard."
China has taken an active part in the UN activities in the sphere of human rights. Since resuming its lawful seat in the United Nations in 1971, China has sent its delegation to attend every session of the UN Economic and Social Council and of the UN General Assembly, and has taken an active part in deliberation of human rights issues and stated its views on the issue of human rights, making its contributions to enriching the connotation of the concept of human rights. Chinese delegations attended as observers the UN Human Rights Commission's sessions in 1979, 1980 and 1981. China was elected a member of the Human Rights Commission at the first regular session of the UN Economic and Social Council and has been a member ever since. Since 1984 the human rights affairs experts recommended by China to the Human Rights Commission have been continually elected members and alternate members of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. The Chinese members have played an important role in the sub-commission. They have become members of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the Working Group on Communications affiliated to the sub-commission.
China has taken an active part in drafting and formulating international legal instruments on human rights within the UN, and has sent delegates to participate in working groups charged with drafting these instruments, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Declaration on the Protection of Rights of Persons Belonging to National, Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The meetings of these working groups paid much attention to the suggestions and amendments put forward by China. Since 1981 China has participated in every session of the governmental experts group organized by the UN Commission on Human Rights to draft the Declaration on the Right to Development and made positive suggestions until the Declaration on the Right to Development was passed by the 41st session of the UN General Assembly in 1986. China energetically supported the Commission on Human Rights in conducting worldwide consultation on the implementation of the right to development and supported the proposal that the right to development be discussed as an independent agenda item in the Human Rights Commission. China has always been a cosponsor country of the Human Rights Commission's resolution on the right to development.
Since 1980 the Chinese government has successively signed, ratified and acceded to seven UN human rights conventions, namely the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crimes of Apartheid, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International 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, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Chinese government has always submitted reports on the implementation of the related conventions, and seriously and earnestly performed the obligations it has undertaken.
China has always upheld justice and made unremitting efforts to safeguard the right of third world countries to national self-determination and to stop massive infringements on human rights. As is well known, China has for many years made unremitting efforts to seek a just and reasonable resolution of a series of major human rights issues, including the questions of Cambodia, Afghanistan, the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories, South Africa and Namibia, and Panama.
China pays close attention to the issue of the right to development. China believes that as history develops, the concept and connotation of human rights also develop constantly. The Declaration on the Right to Development provides that human rights refer to both individual rights and collective rights. This means a breakthrough in the traditional concept of human rights and represents a result won through many years of struggle by the newly-emerging independent countries and the international community, a result of great significance. In the world today the gap between the rich and the poor becomes wider and wider. Social and economic growth in many developing countries is slow, and one-third of the population in developing countries still live below the poverty line. To the people in the developing countries, the most urgent human rights are still the right to subsistence and the right to economic, social and cultural development. Therefore, attention should first be given to the right to development. China appeals to the international community to attach importance and give attention to the developing countries' right to development and adopt positive and effective measures to eliminate injustice and unreasonable practice in the world economic order. An earnest effort must be made to improve the international economic environment, alleviate and gradually eliminate factors disadvantageous to developing countries and establish a new international economic order. Factors which have a negative influence on the right to development, such as racism, colonialism, hegemonism and foreign aggression, occupation and interference must be eliminated. A favorable international environment must be created for the realization of the right to development.
Over a long period in the UN activities in the human rights field, China has firmly opposed to any country making use of the issue of human rights to sell its own values, ideology, political standards and mode of development, and to any country interfering in the internal affairs of other countries on the pretext of human rights, the internal affairs of developing countries in particular, and so hurting the sovereignty and dignity of many developing countries. Together with other developing countries, China has waged a resolute struggle against all such acts of interference, and upheld justice by speaking out from a sense of fairness. China has always maintained that human rights are essentially matters within the domestic jurisdiction of a country. Respect for each country's sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs are universally recognized principles of international law, which are applicable to all fields of international relations, and of course applicable to the field of human rights as well. Section 7 of Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations stipulates that "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state...." The Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty, the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States in Accordance With the Charter of the United Nations, and the Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States, which were all adopted by the United Nations, contain the following explicit provisions: "No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatsoever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State," and every state has the duty "to refrain from the exploitation and the distortion of human rights issues as a means of interference in the internal affairs of States, of exerting pressure on other States or creating distrust and disorder within and among States or groups of States." These provisions of international instruments reflect the will of the overwhelming majority of countries to safeguard the fundamental principles of international law and maintain a normal relationship between states. They are basic principles that must be followed in international human rights activities. The argument that the principle of non-interference in internal affairs does not apply to the issue of human rights is, in essence, a demand that sovereign states give up their state sovereignty in the field of human rights, a demand that is contrary to international law. Using the human rights issue for the political purpose of imposing the ideology of one country on another is no longer a question of human rights, but a manifestation of power politics in the form of interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Such abnormal practice in international human rights activities must be eliminated.
China is in favor of strengthening international cooperation in the realm of human rights on the basis of mutual understanding and seeking a common ground while reserving differences. However, no country in its effort to realize and protect human rights can take a route that is divorced from its history and its economic, political and cultural realities. A human rights system must be ratified and protected by each sovereign state through its domestic legislation. As pointed out in a resolution of the UN General Assembly at its 45th session: "Each State has the right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems." It is also noted in the resolution of the 46th conference on human rights that no single mode of development is applicable to all cultures and peoples. It is neither proper nor feasible for any country to judge other countries by the yardstick of its own mode or to impose its own mode on others. Therefore, the purpose of international protection of human rights and related activities should be to promote normal cooperation in the international field of human rights and international harmony, mutual understanding and mutual respect. Consideration should be given to the differing views on human rights held by countries with different political, economic and social systems, as well as different historical, religious and cultural backgrounds. International human rights activities should be carried on in the spirit of seeking common ground while reserving differences, mutual respect, and the promotion of understanding and cooperation.
China has always held that to effect international protection of human rights, the international community should interfere with and stop acts that endanger world peace and security, such as gross human rights violations caused by colonialism, racism, foreign aggression and occupation, as well as apartheid, racial discrimination, genocide, slave trade and serious violation of human rights by international terrorist organizations. These are important aspects of international cooperation in the realm of human rights and an arduous task facing current international human rights protection activities.
There is now a change over the world pattern from the old to the new, and the world is more turbulent than before. Hegemonism and power politics continue to exist and endanger world peace and development. Interference in other countries' internal affairs and the pushing of power politics on the pretext of human rights are obstructing the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In face of such a world situation, China is ready to work with the international community in a continued and unremitting effort to build a just and reasonable new order of international relations and to realize the purpose of the United Nations to uphold and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
By: Human Rights in China(1991)