China’s Path to the Implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
July 12,2019   By:
China’s Path to the Implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Qiangba Puncog*
This year is the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is of great importance for the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the China Foundation for Human Rights Development to hold a symposium to commemorate and discuss the historical significance and value to the times of the Universal Decla-ration on Human Rights.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has sent a letter of congratulation to the symposium, which offers great inspiration and encouragement not only to China Society for Human Rights Studies, but also to all comrades working in this field. Just now, Minister Huang delivered an important speech and put forward new requirements for our human rights studies. We should learn earnestly and understand deeply the important spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s letter of congratulation. We should also learn in earnest the spirit and requirements presented by Minister Huang in his important speech. Then we can continue to devote our intelligence and strength to pioneering new prospects for the development of China’s human rights cause.
Seventy years ago, guided by purpose of the Charter of the United Nations concerning respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the United Nations General Assembly issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the first uni-versal and comprehensive document for human rights in the international community, laying a solid foundation for the introduction of other international legal documents on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
To commemorate the declaration, we should uphold peace as being fundamental for the full enjoyment of human rights. Our ancestors drew a lesson from their bitter war experiences, which resulted in the declaration. It indicates our ancestors’ ardent expectations and yearnings for peace. Peace is the prerequisite for the development and the basis for realizing human rights and fundamental freedoms. Only with peace, can people enjoy human rights fully. And China firmly conforms to the basic purpose of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sticks to the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations and unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development. From advocating the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence at the beginning of the People’s Republic of China to the proposal of the important concept of building a community with a shared future for human beings, China has been committed to promoting development through peace and facilitating human rights through development. China has always been the builder of world peace, the contributor of global development, and a defender of the international order.
To commemorate the declaration, we should regard safeguarding human dignity as our value pursuit of human rights protection. The declaration begins with stating the recognition of dignity as well as the equal and inalienable rights of every human being as the foundation of world freedom, justice and peace. Dignity is a consensus of human beings, and rights are derived from the inherent dignity of human beings. It is the inherent requirement to respect and safeguard human dignity for human rights protection. Since the birth of the Communist Party of China which has made it its unremitting pursuit to seek happiness for the people. The founding of the People’s Republic of China enabled the Chinese people to truly enjoy their human dignity for the first time. While reform and opening-up have further safeguarded the dignity of Chinese people. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core has adhered to the development concept of being people-centered, safeguarded earnestly the fundamental interests of the people, continued to promote human rights protection and met people’s growing demands for a better life, and to ensure that Chinese people can live with dignity and share the achievements of economic and social development.
To commemorate the declaration, we should ensure that every right is interrelated and inseparable. The Declaration emphasizes that human rights include not only citizen rights and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights. All of them are coordinated and cannot be separated. China has combined the universal principles for human rights with national conditions, taken people’s all-round development as the goal, made coordinated progress in economic, political, cultural, social and envi-ronmental rights and continued to improve people’s livelihoods, expand democratic participation as well as protect the ecology and environment. Thus, we have created a path of sustainable development in comprehensively safeguarding all rights.
To commemorate the declaration, we should promote the unity of rights and obligations. As the declaration states to the world that human rights should be respected and guaranteed, it also reminds us that people should undertake corresponding social responsibilities and obligations. It revises the traditional Western standards of human rights and reflects the balance of rights and obligations. Absolute rights don’t exist. There are no rights free from obligations and there are no obligations without any rights. Rights and obligations cannot be separated. When everyone excises their rights fully, they should fulfill their obligations and responsibilities toward others, the society and the country in accordance with the law and shall not exceed the boundaries of rights demarcated by law.
General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed in his letter of congratulation, “China’s human rights researchers should keep pace with the times, stay true to their mission and innovate to make great contributions to enrich the diversity of human civilization and advance the development of the world’s human rights cause.” We will resolutely carry out the important instructions and requirements put forward by the General Secretary and insist on the thought of socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era and his significant statements on human rights. We should unify the understanding, lead the action and stay confident on human rights, and continue to make new achievements in China’s human rights research and better promote the cause of safeguarding human rights.
First, we should make innovations while staying true to our mission and deepen the theory of human rights research. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that, “Lagging behind leaves one vulnerable to attacks, poverty makes one suffer hunger and losing discourse gets one scolded.” In recent years, especially since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, continued progress has been made in China’s human rights cause and the international impacts of China’s human rights discourse has been improved significantly. But more efforts are still needed to innovate and improve the theory and discourse system of human rights. We must work hard to research major hot topics in human rights theory, major human rights issues in reality, as well as advance the international discourse on human rights. We should continue to regularly release human rights research subjects, apply for the National Social Science Fund, as well as “Marxist theory research and construction” projects and hold human rights seminars on various themes. Through these, we can constantly promote valuable research outcomes and establish a human rights discourse system with Chinese characteristics and global significance.
Second, we should stick to cultivating decency and strengthening human rights education and publicity. It is an important prerequisite for the development of China’s human rights cause to improve society-wide awareness of and respect for human rights. Currently, China has made vigorous progress in human rights education as well as raising people’s awareness of human rights. We should work more precisely and earnestly in human rights education and publicity. We should cultivate talents with solid theoretical knowledge and research ability, explore various forms of education and training and promote human rights education to incorporate into the national education curriculum. We should also strengthen training on human rights knowledge for civil servants and journalists and make every effort to popularize human rights knowledge to make the concept of human rights become civic awareness, public consensus and common sense.
Last, we should remain calm and confident to expand international exchanges on human rights. We should not only confidently introduce the development achievements of China’s human rights cause, but also offer to take our responsibilities, lead the trend and provide the world with China’s plan for human rights protection. We should also continue to hold international forums such as Beijing Forum on Human Rights and the Europe-China Human Rights Seminar and strengthen in-depth communication and cooperation in human rights with international organizations including the United Nations, foreign parties and governments, parliaments, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to build multi-form and multi-level platforms for human rights communication and cooperation. We should treat it as our mission to build a community of human destiny, and actively participate in global human rights governance to contribute wisdom to the development of world human rights cause and promote the co-development and coprosperity of the global human rights cause.
(Translated by LI Man)
* Qiangba puncog ( 向巴平措 ), Vice-Chairman of the 12th NpC Standing Committee of China, president of China Society for Human Rights Studies. This article selected from Qiangba puncog’s Speech at the Symposium on the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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