Promoting the Realization of the Right to Peace to Accelerate the Peace and Progress of Mankind
May 11,2018   By:CSHRS

Promoting the Realization of the Right to Peace to Accelerate the Peace and Progress of Mankind

SHEN Yongxiang*
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping has issued a series of important expositions on peace and devel- opment, whose impact is increasingly important for the current process of global gov- ernance. Xi has pointed out that Chinese civilization has upheld harmony in handling international relations, cherishing diversity in harmony and advocating harmony. In the past thousands of years, peace has been integrated into the blood of the Chinese nation and become deeply entrenched. The Chinese people are convinced that only with peace can prosperity and development be realized. From being a country with prolonged history of poverty and weakness, China has grown into the world’s sec- ond-largest economy not by military expansion or colonial plundering, but by hard- work of its people and maintenance of peace. In any stage of development, China will always follow the path of peaceful development and will never seek hegemony, expansion or any sphere of control.

In his report to the 19th CPC National Congress, Xi Jinping expounded the major political idea of “adhering to the road of peaceful development and promoting the construction of a community of shared future for humankind.” It was proposed in the report that “peace and development remain the call of our day.” “China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit and uphold its fundamental foreign policy goal of preserving world peace and promot- ing common development. China remains firm in its commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and to forging a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation.” Xi called on all peoples to work together “to build a community with a shared future for humankind, and build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal se- curity, and common prosperity.”

General Secretary Xi Jinping’s thoughts on peace and development and  building a community of shared future are significant in guiding China’s research on the  right to peace. It provides a solid theoretical basis and clear practical guidelines for promot- ing the realization of the right to peace. Here, I’d like to share my opinions on several issues concerning the right to peace inspired by Xi’s thought on peaceful develop- ment.
Ⅰ.  Promoting the Right to Peace is in Accordance with Building a Community with a Shared Future

The right to peace as a third-generation human right emphasizes the relevance of the interests of different countries and peoples. The concept of a community    with a shared future for mankind provides the philosophical and theoretical basis for this relevance. The right to peace is the cornerstone for a community with a shared future for mankind. To build such a community, we must first build a community of human peace. Peace is the common basis for a new order of international relations and the precondition for achieving common development and win-win cooperation. It has the potential to become the common value and ideology for humanity.

Ⅱ. The Right to Peace has been Recognized by the International Community As a Human Right

The adoption of the Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace at the 39th UN General Assembly in 1984 and the Declaration on the Right to Peace at the 71st UN General Assembly on December 28, 2016, marked the international community’s has recognition that the right to peace is a human right. When Declaration on the Right to Peace was adopted at the 71st UN General Assembly, 130 countries, including China, voted in its favor, and 34 Western and Eastern European countries including the Unit- ed States voted against it, while 19 countries including Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Turkey abstained. The voting indicates that Asia, Africa and Latin America generally supported the right to peace, while their Western counterparts were of divergent opinions.

The establishment of the right to peace is a major step forward in international human rights. According to the Declaration on the Right to Peace, all people have the right to peace and the right to freedom from war. Every country has an obligation to promote the realization of the right to peace. All countries must formulate policies and laws to reduce wars and the threat of war, refrain from use of force in international re- lations and resolve international disputes peacefully. The international community and international organizations must do their utmost to realize people’s right to peace. The right to peace is, in itself, a human right. As the basis for realizing other human rights, it is also a fundamental human right. It belongs to the third generation of human rights, with the same features of collective human rights as the rights to life, self-de- termination, development, and environmental right. Its establishment has further en- riched the concepts and theories of international human rights.

The right to peace still has room for improvement and enrichment as a human right. Some scholars believe that the adoption of Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace and Declaration on the Right to Peace at the UN General Assembly has sig- nified the transformation of the right to peace into a political right from a theoretical right. In order for it to become a legal right with binding effect on all nations, efforts should be made to accelerate a UN Convention on the Right to Peace. At present, there are still considerable controversies regarding its definition, connotations, the subject of rights, the subject of obligations, the relationship between rights and obligations,

Ⅲ Active Efforts Should be Made to Promote the Realization of the Right to Peace Worldwide. 

The largest obstacle to the promotion of the right to peace lies in politics. The reason for the United States and other Western countries to oppose the Right to Peace is that, to sum up, peace is not a right, let alone a human right. In fact, the real reason for some countries to oppose it is they do not want it to impact on their narrow human rights view that emphasizes the political rights of individual citizens, or its restraint on their freedom to use force in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

To achieve lasting peace, we must address both the problems and their root caus- es. To achieve peace, we must first achieve passive peace by advocating the resolution of international disputes through peaceful means such as negotiation, investigation, mediation, reconciliation, arbitration, and justice, prohibiting incitement of war and hatred and strive to reduce wars and armed conflicts. However, peace means not only the eradication of wars and armed conflicts. In order to achieve lasting peace, efforts must be made to establish a fair, reasonable international order and eliminate the caus- es of war such as poverty, disease, discrimination, intolerance, and injustice, so as to realize positive peace.

In advocating the right to peace, we must prevent pan-pacifism tendencies. In the real world, there are still foreign aggression, armed interference and terrorism, making it unrealistic to completely rule out the use of force. The right to peace opposes illegal and unjust use of force, including the three afore-mentioned actions. Defense of fun- damental national interests while adhering to peaceful development as the bottom line is an important issue. Emphasis on peaceful development does not mean cession of the fundamental interests of a country or nation. True peace means that the interests of all parties concerned can be reasonably respected without the use of force.

Ⅳ. China is an Important Force for Realizing the Right to Peace

There is a long-lived legacy for peace in traditional Chinese culture. China’s profound traditional culture contains the cosmopolitan value of unification between heaven and humanity, the international value of harmony among all nations, the social value of diversity in harmony and the moral value of the innate tendency for the good in people. Among the philosophers, Confucianism cherished the value of harmony, Taoism advocated restraint from warfare, while Mohism advocated a “non-attack” philosophy. The highest realm of politicians in state governance consists in bringing about peace and harmony. A pet phrase of the Chinese people is “He Wei Gui.” (“Peace is valuable.”) From the “harmony among all nations” in Book of History to “pursuit of great harmony” in Book of Changes, from “harmony nourishes life” in Gu Yu to “the harmony between heaven and earth” in Book of Rites, the concept of peace has been the cultural lifeline and gene of the Chinese nation and the five thousand years of Chi- nese civilization.

China has always pursued independent, peaceful diplomacy, evidenced by the five principles of peaceful coexistence drawn up in the 1950s as the criterion for handling relations with other countries. Since reform and opening up, China has ad- hered to the path of peaceful development. Regarding international and regional hot issues, the country advocates the settlement of disputes through peaceful dialogue. China has actively participated in UN peacekeeping operations and made important contributions to maintaining peace throughout the world. In the new situation, China upholds the banner of win-win situation for peaceful development and cooperation, and proposes to discuss, jointly build, and share the Belt and Road, so as to eventually achieve communication between peoples in the world. Facts have spoken—China is an important force for realizing the right to peace for mankind.
(Translated by CUI Zhuojun)
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