Strengthen the Legal Protection of Human Rights and Promote the Development of Human Rights Cause
May 11,2018   By:CSHRS

Strengthen the Legal Protection of Human Rights and Promote the Development of Human Rights Cause

HAN Dayuan*
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China established Xi Jin- ping’s socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics in a new era, and opened up a new era for the socialist construction with Chinese characteristics. This indicates the direction for China’s human rights cause to move towards a new era, which has laid out a clear “road map” for the development of human rights. Xi Jinping’s socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics in the new era contains new concepts, ideas and strategies for protecting human rights and advancing the progress of human rights.  It is enriched with content. In order to conscientiously comprehend and thoroughly im- plement these new concepts, ideas and new strategies would surely promote the over- all new development of the human rights cause in China.

Ⅰ.  The Development of the Human Rights Cause in China Ushers in a New Era

The report of the 19th National Congress points out that the present principle con- tradiction in China has undergone a historic change, and transformed into the contra- diction between people’s ever-growing needs for a better life and unbalanced and in- adequate development. People’s expectations and needs for a better life are becoming more varied. In particular, people’s demands for democracy, the rule of law, equity, justice, security and the environment are increasing. This mainly shows people’s need for equality and dignity. As a whole, the issue of food, clothing and survival has been generally solved, but the problem of imbalanced and inadequate development is even more pronounced. Therefore, it can be said that a major sign of China’s entry into the new era of human rights is to respond to the people’s expectations of a better life and promoting fair, comprehensive and balanced development. Enabling people to enjoy the right of dignity is a new starting point and new requirement for the cause of hu- man rights.

The report of the 19th National Congress proposed that by 2035, China will basi- cally have realized socialist modernization. In this grand blueprint, human rights pro- tection is one of the basic goals. By then, “people’s equal participation and equal de- velopment rights will be fully protected” and “a legal state, a law-based government, and a society with rule of law will basically be constructed, the system in all aspects will be further improved, and the modernization of the country’s governance system and governance capacity will be basically achieved.” This has laid out a clear “timeta- ble” for the development of human rights in the new era,  integrated the full  guaranty to people’s comprehensive development and people’s rights into the core indicators of the modern blueprint, and laid down clear goals for the development of human rights.
The first is to establish the concept of people-centered dignity for people. So- cialism respects the subjectivity of the people, adheres to the concept of people-cen- tered development, continues to promote the all-round development of people, and insists that people are the masters of the country, because “people are the creators of history and the fundamental forces that determine the future and destiny of the Party and the country.” The report proposes that “people-centered development ideas must be adhered to, and people’s all-round development must be continuously promoted” and “people’s interests must always be placed in a supreme position, and the results of reform and development should give more equal benefits shared by all people.” This puts forward important theoretical propositions to understand human rights and develops the human rights cause from the perspective of the people. The unfolding of the people’s subjectivity and the supremacy of the people’s interests in the human rights field mainly manifests that the people-centered development concept and peo- ple’s subjectivity are embodied in the maintenance of the dignity of each person and the implementation of the basic rights stipulated in the Constitution. The realization of people being masters of the country, people’s equal participation, equal development, and common prosperity are inseparable from the equal respect and protection of ev- eryone’s dignity and rights.

The second is that human rights construction must be carried out in the overall process of the socialist cause. The construction of human rights is not an isolated issue. In order to promote the great development of human rights, we must combine the historical process of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We can nei- ther indulge in empty dreams and empty words, nor sit back and wait. The overall thinking to promote the cause of human rights is embodied in the overall promotion of human rights under the overall framework of the “five in one” socialist structure with Chinese characteristics and the four-pronged strategic framework. In other words, in the new era of human rights, it is necessary to comprehensively carry out the cause of human rights in terms of the economy, politics, culture, society and ecological civ- ilization, and maintain the balance and comprehensiveness of human rights develop- ment. Therefore, in order to promote the cause of human rights, we must adhere to the unity of human rights and the leadership of the party, the people as the masters of the country, and the rule of law. We must uphold the integrated protection of economic, democratic, social and cultural, and ecological rights. We must have an awareness of the people’s subjectivity in domestic governance, and a sense of community of human destiny in global governance. It is necessary to combine the promotion in key areas with overall coordination.

The third is to enrich human rights with new development concepts. Human rights can only be continuously promoted in all-round social development. The   kind of development concept, which is adhered to, directly affects the ways, methods and steps of human rights development. The report of the 19th National Congress pro- posed: “We must stimulate the creativity and development enthusiasm of the whole society and strive to achieve more efficient, more equitable, and more sustainable development with higher quality”; “Development is the foundation and key to solving all problems in our country, it must be scientific, and we must unswervingly imple- ment the development concept of innovation, coordination, greenness, openness and sharing.” The new development concept has greatly enriched the new connotations of human rights, and especially highlighted the imbalanced and inadequate development issues. This has greatly given enlightenment to the theme of human rights develop- ment in the new era of human rights. For example, the problem in people’s livelihood guarantee is a problem in the present human rights development, and a comprehensive and fair development right requires that the issue of the poverty-stricken people’s right to subsistence be comprehensively resolved on the basis of accurate poverty allevia- tion, so that they can have equal opportunities for development.
The fourth is to integrate human rights into the socialist core value system and enhance cultural confidence in human rights. A major goal of human rights development in the new era is to establish cultural confidence in human rights. It is necessary to construct a set of modern human rights system with Chinese character- istics and establish human rights culture with Chinese characteristics in the common value system of human civilization. The report of 19th National Congress proposes: “Culture is the soul of a country and a nation”, and “cultural confidence is a more fundamental, deeper, and more lasting force for the development of a country and a nation”. In the new era of human rights construction, if we are to hold the right to speak in the international arena and be more persuasive, we must integrate the ele- ments of international human rights discourse into the socialist value system with Chinese characteristics and form a human rights core value system with Chinese char- acteristics. The integration of human rights into the core value system has become an important part of cultural confidence, and can provide powerful institutional support for enhancing cultural confidence. The report proposes to “integrate socialist core val- ues into all aspects of social development and transform these into people’s emotional identity and behavioral habits”. Full protection of human rights is an important way to develop and implement core values in society. The idea of a community with a shared future for mankind advocated by China has a clear impetus for improving confidence in international human rights discourse, spreading the Chinese spirit, and contributing Chinese wisdom.

Ⅱ. Promoting Human Rights in an All-Round Manner and Attach Greater Importance to the Legal Protection

In understanding and positioning the human rights system and human rights cul- tural construction from the overall thinking of the report of the 19th National Congress, we can find that the report puts forward many important measures for the construction of human rights, and points out the directions for the comprehensive protection of hu- man rights in the new era. We mainly have the following experiences:

The first is to comprehensively run the country by law and deepen the prac- tice of governing the country according to law. When talking about upholding the organic unity of the party’s leadership, with the people being the masters of the country and law-based governance, the report puts forward the principle of “maintaining the unity, dignity and authority of the country’s legal system, strengthening the legal protection of human rights, and ensuring that the people enjoy a wide range of rights and freedoms in accordance with the law”. This formulation is more comprehensive than the words as “strengthening the judicial guaranty of human rights” in CPC Cen- tral Committee’s Decisions on Several Major Issues in Comprehensively Advanc- ing the Governance of the Country According to Law passed by the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. It focuses on the legal nature of human rights protection. At the same time, the way of human rights protection has also been expanded, that is, the protection of human rights has been extended to the entire legal process of legislation, law enforcement, judicature, and law abiding by the entire peo- ple, embodying a comprehensive view of human rights protection.
The second is to promote human rights protection through the implementa- tion of the Constitution under the legal idea of “constitutional and legal suprem- acy”. The report puts forward: “Strengthening the implementation and supervision of the Constitution, promoting the review of constitutionality and safeguarding the con- stitutional authority”. The Constitution is the country’s fundamental law, and has the highest legal effect. The basic spirit of the Constitution is to regulate the operation of public power and protect human rights. Human rights are the core values of the Con- stitution. If the Constitution has authority, human rights are guaranteed. The review of constitutionality put forward in the report is a major institutional arrangement for safeguarding human rights.

The third is to promote the realization of human rights values by compre- hensively promoting fairness and justice. The comprehensive deepening of reforms regards promoting social fairness and justice and enhancing the well-being of  people as motivation and goal. The concept of fairness and justice runs through the entire re- port, in words about the economy and society of China and the international commu- nity. The report has mentioned the concept of “fairness” more than 10 times. It shows that fairness, justice, freedom and equality are the fundamental values of socialism. The fair competition, equal participation, equal development, and efforts to make everyone feel fairness and justice, as mentioned in the report, clearly have profound human rights connotations.

The fourth is to highlight right of equality in the human rights system. The report attaches importance to equality and proposes that “we must adhere to the legal principle that everyone is equal before the law”, “any organization and individual must not have the privilege to surpass the Constitution and laws”, and that people’s rights to equal participation and equal development must be upheld.

The fifth is to highlight the practicality of human rights protection by com- bining social governance innovations, in such areas as education, employment, in- come, social security, anti-poverty (precise poverty alleviation), healthy China strategy (health care, food safety) and so on. The report clearly puts forward the “implementa- tion of a healthy China strategy” and regards people’s health as an important symbol of the prosperity of the nation and the country. Highlighting the national health policy and food safety has become a preferential concept for national development and re- flected the Chinese Communist Party’s “people-centered development concept”. It will provide fresh Chinese experience and wisdom for the development of internation- al human rights undertakings.

Ⅲ. Combining Work in Human Rights Bases to Strengthen Human Rights Education and Publicity

The human rights construction project planned by the 19th National Congress needs to be implemented in all areas of human rights. As far as the present work in the national human rights base is concerned, efforts should be made to sensibly and practicably implement the spirit of the 19th National Congress in the areas of academic research, education and publicity of human rights.

The first is human rights research. We must pay more attention to the study of Marxist human rights theory, with particular emphasis on linking new human rights ideology in the 19th National Congress with basic Marxist principles in human rights. We must pay more attention to adopting a combination of theory and practice, histo- ry and reality, and present and future approaches, base on China’s reality, follow the logic of China’s development to understand human rights issues and actively carry out systematic research on human rights ideology in the new era.

The second is human rights education. We must strengthen the  establishment of human rights academic systems, curriculum systems, and teaching material sys- tems, so that human rights education will become an important content in legal educa- tion, especially civic education, legal ethics education, and professional ethics education.

The third is the international exchange in the field of human rights. We must make new propaganda forms, clearly introduce and transmit China’s human rights concepts and values to the international community through effective, flexible and open forms, so that human rights practices from China can become an important  part of the international human rights cause and make contribution to the development of global governance and building a community with shared future for mankind.

The fourth is human rights publicity. Efforts should be made to publish greater academic journals and periodicals about human rights such as the magazine - Hu- man Rights, and give full play to scholarly Journals of Human Rights in advancing academic research, especially in building socialist human rights theory with Chinese characteristics, promoting human rights practices, enhancing the international influ- ence of human rights discourse and other aspects.

(Translated by LI Man)
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