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Summary of the Seminar on China’s Theory and Practice of the Right to Peace
May 11,2018   By:CSHRS

Summary of the Seminar on China’s Theory and Practice of the Right to Peace


LUO Qingyun*
 
Abstract: On September 11, 2017, the Seminar on China’s Theo- ry and Practice of the Right to Peace was held at Nanjing University. It was jointly organized by the China Society for Human Rights Stud- ies (CSHRS) and the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Jiangsu Provincial Committee, and co-hosted by the Institute for International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School and the School of History at Nanjing University. More than 70 experts and scholars from universities and human rights institutes in China, and representatives of relevant governmental agencies and social organizations discussed in depth topics including “Research on the Basic Theory of the Right to Peace,” “Practice of the Right to Peace and Peace in China,” “Traditional Chinese History and culture and the Right to Peace,” “Peaceful Construction of a Community with a shared future for Mankind,” “Right to Peace and Irenology,” and “Promotion and Discipline Construction of Irenology.” This seminar has not only expounded China’s peaceful development concept and its outstanding contributions to world peace from the perspective of hu- man rights, but also facilitated the construction of a theoretical system of human rights with Chinese characteristics.

Keywords: right to peace  peace  the Belt and Road  a community with a shared future for mankind
 
Peaceful development is the eternal dream of mankind and a consensus of glob- al governance. Respecting and safeguarding the people’s right to peace, building “a community with a shared future for mankind” and passing the idea of peace from generation to generation are one of the important viewpoints of General Secretary Xi Jinping on human rights. Democracy and human rights are the common pursuit of mankind. The national rejuvenation of China is inseparable from the promotion of hu- man rights. The Chinese people adhere to a path of human rights development  suited to their national conditions, respect all peoples’ right to independent development, and contribute to safeguarding world peace.

The Seminar on China’s Theory and Practice of the Right to Peace was convened in Nanjing on September 11, 2017 in order to promote the in-depth thinking of all parties on the right to peace, implement the keynote speeches by General  Secretary
 
Xi Jinping, strive to build a theoretical system of human rights with Chinese charac- teristics, and conscientiously enhance China’s discourse power on right to peace. The seminar was jointly organized by China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) and the Publicity Department of CPC Jiangsu Provincial Committee, and co-hosted by the Institute for International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School and the School of History at Nanjing University. More than 70 experts and scholars from uni- versities and human rights institutes in China, and representatives of relevant govern- mental agencies and social organizations discussed in depth topics such as “Research on the Basic Theory of the Right to Peace,” “Practice of the Right to Peace and Peace in China,” “Traditional Chinese History and culture and the Right to Peace,” “Peaceful Construction of ‘Community with a shared future for Mankind,’” “Right to Peace and Irenology,” and “Promotion and Discipline Construction of Irenology.”

Ⅰ.  Study on the Basic Theories of the Right to Peace


Starting from their pursuit of peace, lasting peace and sustained prosperity for the international community, mankind put forward the solemn, sacred concept of “the right to peace” as a “human right.” According to Ai Ping, former deputy minister of the International Department of Central Committee of CPC and member of the Inter- national Advisory Committee of the Chahar Society, the right to peace is an important part of the third generation of human rights. It covers individuals, nations, and all hu- manity; therefore, it is both a collective human right and an individual human right.

Professor Li Yunlong at Institute for International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School gave detailed explanations on this point. “The right to peace is both an individual right and a collective right, because it cannot be achieved by individuals alone. Instead, it can only be achieved through collective efforts. It has been actualized as a political right claim. However, it is still being incorporated into the law to become a legal right.”
Professor Yin Kuijie, dean of the School of Politics and Law at Northeast Nor- mal University, examined the right to peace from the perspective of legal theory. He pointed out that the right to peace accorded with the nature of opposition and unifica- tion between individual rights and national interests in jurisprudence. Seen from the perspective of legal principles, it has the theoretical basis to be enshrined in the law and Constitution, and it is consistent with the theory of the relations between rights. In addition, it is to some extent an objective legal order, like the Declaration of the Right to Peace issued by the United Nations last year. Judging from its legal nature, the right to peace is a solitary fundamental right, and one needs to consider the right from three aspects: subject solidarity, object solidarity and value solidarity.

Many experts mentioned the Declaration of the Right to Peace in their speeches, but Chen Shiqiu, an advisor to CSHRS and expert of the UN Committee on Econom- ic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR), illustrated its significance and practical values with greater clarification. According to Chen, the Declaration has promoted the human right to peace and thus established its legal status in international laws on peaceful human rights. Also, since the establishment of the United Nations, the  rights of the people in the Declaration are reflective of the features of the times and have been constantly revised and updated, marking another major progress in the develop- ment of international theories on human rights. Third, the birth of the Declaration in- dicates that the “positive tendency” in the UN human rights discourse has been grow- ing. Fourth, the Declaration is a new weapon against the challenges facing the world’s peaceful development and governance.

The right to peace is a typical third-generation human right. Its construction is not feasible without studies on human rights. Professor Chang Jian from the Center for Human Rights Research at Nankai University mentioned that the core of further legal- ization of the right to peace would be which contents of human rights development— theoretical, political, and legal—should be included in the scope of the right to peace. Its connotations include the adoption of various peaceful methods in line with human rights to eliminate violence and the threat of violence by defusing and transforming conflicts.

The right to peace is an emerging topic. Zheng Ruohan, a human rights research- er at the Human Rights Institute of Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL), commented on the current problems with the right to peace by saying  that it had always been controversial since its introduction. The core issue consists in the necessity of including “peace” in the human rights discourse and the possibility of turning “peace” into a right. In development and construction of the right, we should be vigilant about these issues in devising solutions.

During the seminar, several other scholars put forward their views on the prac- tice and application of the theory of the right to peace in various fields. Professor Du Huanfang from the School of Law at Renmin University of China said that, seen from its application in international civil judicial assistance in China, it was actually an important part of international law, especially the international laws on human rights. The right to peace could be realized not only in the relationships between countries, but also in personal cross-border contacts. However, the roles of countries as the main premise must be promoted. Countries have the responsibility and the obligation to en- sure its full implementation.

Sui Yanfei, a teacher from Law School of Liaocheng University, analyzed the approach to realize the right to peace. She pointed out that “the realization of the right to peace has evolved from a simple ideological concept into a theoretical right, a polit- ical right for the people, then established as a legal right, to be enjoyed and exercised by the subjects in accordance with the law in social practice. Currently, there are three main obstacles to realizing the right to peace: (1) regional military and political con- flicts threatening regional peace; (2) terrorism threatening world peace; and 3) insuffi- cient institutionalization and legalization of the right to peace.”
Professor Zhu Liyu, Executive Director of the Human Rights Research Center at Renmin University of China analyzed the concept of the right to peace in the context of human rights education. He pointed out that the concept of the right to peace needs to be inculcated and nurtured through human rights education, one aimed at fully developing individual personality and enhancing respect for human rights and basic freedoms. To understand the connotations of the right to peace, one must be alert to two incorrect tendencies. The first is pan-pacifism that opposes all wars; the second is force-supremacy disregarding peace.
 
Nowadays, the internet links the world, and peace and security in cyberspace has gradually gained attention. Pan Jun, a researcher at the SWUPL Human Rights Insti- tute, analyzed issues related to the right to peace in cyberspace, explaining that, seen from its traditional connotations, the right to peace is based on peace. Therefore, un- derstanding the right to peace in cyberspace should be based on certain connotations. Human rights should be an open, growing concept. With the development of human society, and the popularization of the internet, discussion on the concept of human rights in cyberspace has emerged. Approaching the right to peace in cyberspace is also the path to mastering the right to speech in cyber security.

Ⅱ.   Practice of Peace and the Right to Peace in China


Peace is an important symbol of the progress of human civilization and one of the core values of Chinese civilization. The Communist Party of China is the successor and ambassador of the Chinese culture of peace. Over the years, the CPC has always adhered to an independent foreign policy of peace, adhered to the strategy of peace- ful development based on mutual benefits, and strived to promote friendly relations with neighboring countries. The Belt and Road, for one, is an important carrier for building the community with a shared future for its neighboring countries. Ai Ping, former deputy minister of the International Department of the Central

Committee of CPC and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Chahar Society, stressed that the Belt and Road Initiative has been a paragon of China’s diplomatic innovation since the 18th CPC National Congress. “Its construction has been gradually shifted from conceptualization to action and from vision to reality. According to Ai, its contributions to world development were fourfold: First, it helps countries overcome the bottleneck of development and release their potential, aside from cooperation that helps enhance mutual understanding, strengthen mutual trust, and deepen friendship. Second, it has broadened the vision and ideas of world governance and provided new public diplomacy products. Third, by creating an open cooperation platform, it has brought about new opportunities for various countries. Fourth, it has enriched the con- tents of international cooperation

Professor Li Erping from Kunming University of Science and Technology cited the construction of the Mekong sub-region as an example of interpreting the Belt and Road Initiative that features promotion of peace through development. He pointed out that the Rohingya people in Myanmar are an ethnic group living in the border areas between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Since its founding, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has been the focus of the world for its human rights conditions. Western society, led by the United States, has intervened extensively. Myanmar is an important country in Asia for the Belt and Road Initiative. Seen from the perspective of the construction of the Belt and Road, the human rights of the Rohingya people are a matter of value order. First, there has to be order before there can be the right to survival and the right to development. After that, there comes fairness and   justice, followed by national integration, and ultimately realization of peace and the right to peace. This choice of value order is worth our attention in the realization of the  right to peace. Without the right to development underpinned by the right to subsistence, there couldn’t be lasting peace. Without order, peaceful development would stay a daydream.

During the meeting, some scholars shared their knowledge about China’s contri- butions in maintaining world peace. Among them, Zhang Guobin, secretary-general of the Chahar Society and former Consul-general of the Chinese Consulate in Stras- bourg, pointed out that, as a responsible power, China has always been  committed to maintaining world peace and development. For example, in political and military affairs, it has firmly opposed hegemony and power politics and promoted the democ- ratization of international relations and the diversification of development models. China has sent a large number of peacekeepers to conflict areas to maintain peace and help refugees. At the same time, it has also provided considerate assistance to many conflict areas, effectively reducing local contradictions and conflicts.

Professor Zhao Jianwen of the Institute of International Law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), talked about the guiding role of General Secre- tary Xi Jinping’s “ideal for international peace strategy” in the realization of the right to peace. President Xi Jinping sets great store by peace and unequivocally stated the issue of the right to peace in his speech at the 2015 Peace Forum. In his thinking, the most important point is to resolve disputes and eliminate wars through peaceful means so as to ensure the establishment of the right to peace.

Professor Zheng Xianwu from the School of International Relations at Nanjing University, combined security, peace and human rights in analyzing China’s concept of “sustainable safety” and its promotion of the right to peace. According to Zheng, what China seeks is a positive overall peace, which is correlated to the promotion of the right to peace. The concept of sustainable security is first aimed at turning the peace pursued by mankind from negative to positive. Second, it provides a path for achieving positive peace. In addition, it also furnishes a realistic basis for China to build a Chinese-style right to peace.

China has always adhered to the path of peaceful development. Professor Chen Xiaolü, Director of the EU Research Center at Nanjing University, shared his views on China’s peaceful development. Adhering to peaceful development should by no means be circumvented. Now there is a misunderstanding both at home and abroad that puts the emphasis peaceful development means forfeiting domestic interests. Staunch defense of domestic interests was mistaken for opposing peace. True peace means that the interests of all parties could be respected without the use of force in order to achieve long-term peace. Therefore, China has learned from its own historical experience that one must have the power to defend peace so as to hope for it. With its national development, China would surely become an important force in safeguarding world peace. The growth and expansion of this force is in the interests of the Chinese people, as well as those of peoples around the world.

Peaceful development has always been the call of the Chinese nation and the cultural heritage and genes of the Chinese people spanning 5,000 years. Professor Luo Yanhua of the School of International Relations at Peking University, proposed that traditional Chinese thought featuring pacifism is consistent with the conceptual roots of the right to peace. The pacifism of traditional Chinese culture is an important source of the right to peace in China. In addition, contemporary China’s diplomatic practice has contributed to the right to peace. First of all, the independent and peaceful foreign policy pursued by China and its consistent use of peaceful means to settle dis- putes in international relations are crucial to safeguarding the right to peace. Second, the peacekeeping operations undertaken by China have been highly recognized by the international community, with positive contributions to promoting the internationaliza- tion of China’s right to peace. Third, in recent years, the Belt and Road Initiative and the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind put forward by China have promoted the establishment and development of the right to peace.

Professor Tan Huosheng at Department of Political Science of Tsinghua Univer- sity School of Social Sciences, expounded the ideal political order by analyzing the Ji, Tai and Bi divination texts in Book of Changes, a classic work rich in traditional Chinese culture and wisdom. “First of all, the Ji divination text means that each shall pursue his own trade and perform his own duties. Under all circumstances, countries and regions around the world should have the opportunities for development, so as to form a favorable international political order. The Tai divination texts indicate that di- alogs should be adopted to resolve differences, so as to establish a favorable environ- ment for political communication. By “people-to-people bonds,” General Secretary Xi meant the benign interaction between the international community and China, so as to achieve the state of logical administration and harmonious people. Finally, the Bi divination texts mean to fully display the role of great powers in promoting peace and building a community with a shared future for mankind. Common development must be pursued by upholding the principle of fairness and justice, mutual respect, and seeking common ground while reserving differences.

Professor Zhang Wei, Co-director of the Institute for Human Rights at China University of Political Science and Law, mentioned the existing problems in current researches on the right to peace in China. “The study on the right to peace is relatively weak at home and abroad with a lack of relevant data, especially Chinese data. Only a small number of academic papers are available, mainly legal ones, and the research on the right to peace in other disciplines has not received enough attention. He suggested that the research on the right to peace should be widely promoted both internationally and domestically, and that the new ideas of Chinese scholars and the Chinese govern- ment on the right to peace should be publicized so as to provide favorable conditions for future development of international peace.

Ⅲ. Peaceful Construction of the “Community with a Shared Future for Mankind”


The community with a shared future for mankind is a new concept proposed by China for the peaceful development of human society. Professor Wang Yi, Executive Director of the Research Center for Development of Chinese Interests Overseas    at Shanxi University, pointed out that the strategic thinking of such community has laid out the direction for achieving real human peace. It provides an effective way to solve various macroscopic problems (such as war and peace). At the same time, it is also a realistic mode of human existence with marked characteristics of the times. In addi- tion, its guiding principle is to create a future from practice and create peace through active practice.

Liu Ming, a researcher at the Literature Research Center of Nankai University, pointed out that “the proposition of a community with a shared future for mankind is actually a summary and objective description of actual international relations. The goals for all countries to participate in international relations should not be pursuit of national interests alone, since resisting war and safeguarding peace are the common destiny of all mankind.”
Professor Liu Xinjun from Department of Philosophy at Shandong Normal Uni- versity demonstrated the three important roles that can be played by the concept of “a community with a shared future for mankind” in constructing the right to peace: First, it is a normative principle for promoting the realization of the right to peace. Under its guidance, China has actively participated in and led the system reform for global hu- man rights governance. Second, it is the philosophical foundation for the realization of the right to peace. It emphasizes the relevance and integrity of all human rights. Third, it is a just foundation for the right to peace. The consensus reached by countries for common value goals is conducive to building an international order of common devel- opment, inclusive development, peaceful development, and sustainable development.

Professor Du Xuewen from the Department of Law Teaching and Research at Shanxi Provincial Party School analyzed the three characteristics of the right to peace that make it consistent with the concept of a community with a shared future for man- kind: First, relevance in topic. The right to peace is a third-generation human right, and its infringement would be violating the rights of all human beings. This feature is highly consistent with the theme of a community with a shared future for mankind. Second, the compound nature of rights. Peace is a compound interest claim for the right to peace, because peace often means the continuation of life as well as human dignity, the protection of property and ecological security. When the right to peace is trampled on, people’s rights to life, health, dignity, property, and environment inter- ests cannot be guaranteed. This high correlation has led to the complex nature of the right to peace and those rights. Third, value identity. The right to peace has universally recognized values, which make it significantly different from the previous two gener- ations of human rights by embodying the essence of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Professor Zhang Sheng, Dean of the School of History at Nanjing University, put forward his views on the impact of building a community with a shared future on the development of Sino-Japanese relations. He pointed out that some malicious statements under the control of Japanese right-wing forces have posed a serious threat to the peaceful coexistence of China and Japan. The proposition of China establishing the right to peace as a basic human right is a major undertaking for promoting the development of Sino-Japanese friendship, establishing the discourse power in the con- temporary international relationship, and promoting the common values of humanity.
 
Professor Liu Jianfei, Executive Dean of Institute for International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School, discussed the significance of the right to peace for a community with a shared future. According to him, the right to peace is the cor- nerstone for a community with a shared future and peace is the fundamental proposi- tion for exploring human rights and other common interests of mankind. At present, the main challenges facing mankind are hegemonism, extreme nationalism, realist rights in politics and Cold War thinking. In building the community with a shared fu- ture, emphasis should be placed on two aspects. One is pacifism, according to which peace should be regarded as a value. The other is a full consideration for the relations between countries of different ideologies to reduce massive violence and contradic- tions.”

Professor Shang Haiming, a researcher at the SWUPL Institute of Human Rights, observed that “in the terms of nation-state theory, national interests are the starting point and destination of human thinking. The concept of tian xia (literally meaning “earth under heaven”) in traditional Chinese society did not regard the “nation” but “the earth under heaven” as the highest political unit. Nor was it concerned with a specific ethnic group or a specific country. Instead, it addresses the universal human interest. Approach the community put forward by General Secretary Xi from the perspective of tian xia, and we can see that it emphasizes the close connection between states, replacement of war with dialogue, and settlement of international disputes through peaceful means. In fact, this concept carries the profound heritage of the Chinese cul- ture.”

Professor Zhang Yonghe, dean of the SWUPL Human Rights Institute, suggested that each country take seriously its own obligations for peace and recognize itself as part of a community of obligations. “Only when their duties are conscientiously ful- filled can peace become a reality and a ‘community with a shared future for mankind’ witness sustainable development.”

Ⅳ. Promotion and Discipline Construction of Irenology


On September 4, the International Cities of Peace announced to the world through video that Nanjing had been officially been accepted as its 169th member. As the first city in China to join the organization, Nanjing has demonstrated outstanding achievements in promoting and constructing the study of peace.
Professor Liu Cheng, chairperson of the UNESCO Chair on Peace at Nanjing University and Director of the Institute of Peace Studies, elaborated on the relevance of peace studies and the right to peace. He pointed out that peace studies differ from other disciplines in value orientation—peace, or peace and justice. The Declaration of the Right to Peace adopted in December 2016 is highly consistent with the con- cept of irenology. The Declaration highlights peace as an important condition for the promotion and protection of all human beings and all human rights. It is also the latest expression of the right to peace in the era of globalization. The understanding of peace determines the understanding of the connotations of the right to peace. In peace studies, the term peace means two things: negative peace and positive peace. Negative peace refers to reduction of harm done to humanity through efforts to reduce war and other direct violence. In contrast, positive peace is a process that focuses on lasting, comprehensive, and genuine peace in the future.” Professor Liu analyzed the construction of the right to peace based on related theories of irenology and proposed to divide it into a negative peace right and an active peace right. The former can be further divided into three aspects: rights to direct positive peace, structural positive peace, and cultural positive peace. Peace means a system of cooperation and a revolu- tionary change, entailing transformation of conflicts in a creative way.

Ye Nanke, president of Nanjing Academy of Social Sciences, shared his opinions on creating an International City of Peace from various aspects: First, the idea and the culture of peace must be integrated into the overall planning and strategy for  nation- al and urban development. Second, efforts must be made to vigorously expedite the construction of peace NGOs so as to promote social development, strengthen public diplomacy, and expand international cultural exchanges. Third, peace research must be deepened to provide intellectual support for building an international image of a peaceful city. Fourth, a diversified and peaceful public pattern for peace diplomacy must be built for promoting the brand image of a peaceful city.”

Jiang Zhenchun, CPC Branch Secretary of the School of Liberal Arts at Nanjing Audit University, observed the significance of peace education in Chinese universi- ties. First of all, peace and development are the themes of the current era. Second, China has a long tradition of pacifism. Third, peace education is necessary to = imple- ment China’s strategy of peaceful development. Fourth, peace education is conducive to building a harmonious society in China. Fifth, the development of peace education will help Chinese universities meet the needs of international peace education. Sixth, peace education will promote the integration and penetration of related disciplines. At the same time, he also put forward several suggestions for peace education in Chinese universities. First, peace courses should be designed and developed according to UN- ESCO principles for peace study. Second, peace education should be integrated into the existing curriculum system. Finally, construction of peace culture must be vigor- ously promoted on campus.

This seminar is the first one of its kind in China to focus on establishing the “right to peace” and a successful attempt to launch interdisciplinary research on “the right to peace” comprehensively. Scholars and experts from many fields have conducted in- depth academic exchanges on this topic and achieved fruitful academic results.
(Translated by QIAN Chuijun)

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