Home > PUBLICATIONS & RESOURCES > JOURNAL >

On Poverty Governance and Mainstreaming of Human Rights in China
January 19,2021   By:CSHRS
On Poverty Governance and Mainstreaming of Human Rights in China
 
ZHENG Ruohan*
 
Abstract: China has made remarkable achievements in poverty governance. It is of far-reaching significance to observe and interpret poverty reduction in China from the perspective of human rights. Mainstreaming human rights provides a two-way perspective of observation. It can help observe poverty reduction in the “kaleidoscope” of human rights, and also can help understand human rights through poverty reduction, in particular, observe the status and development trend of human rights in national governance through the “governance revolution” triggered by poverty governance. An examination of poverty governance from the perspective of human rights will reveal that poverty alleviation has become a major “human rights project”. The discourse, goals and approaches to poverty reduction have been marked with human rights imprints, and they are ultimately translated into the realization of the right to be free from poverty in the two dimensions of survival and development. To examine human rights through poverty reduction will reveal that the way of poverty governance is changing , which implies a development view based on human rights, and stimulates the subjectivity of citizens in the trend of democratic participation and pluralistic governance. The above change drives and advances the mainstreaming of human rights in the field of national governance and the deep change of governance. Definitely, how these signs and trends continue to thrive in a broader field and obtain more institutional support after 2020 in the post-poverty alleviation era.
 
Keywords: poverty· governance · human rights ·mainstreaming of human rights
 
I. The Topic: With What Human Rights Perspective to Understand Poverty Reduction in China?
 
Over the past 40 years, China’s progress in poverty reduction has attracted much attention from around the world, and has, more often than not, been interpreted as improved livelihoods or an economic development achievement. However, it can also be understood and discoursed from a brand-new perspective, namely the improvement in human rights. Despite its importance being beyond dispute, many issues about this perspective remain to be debated, for example, its implications and the best “visual angle”.
 
A.Basic perspective: transliteration of concepts and discourses
 
From a human rights perspective, one of the most common angles used to understand and interpret poverty alleviation is transliteration of the concepts and discourses, that is to say, the transliteration the issue of poverty reduction into the one of human rights, reshaping the demand for freedom from poverty into a structure of rights and turning the poverty reduction push into the practice of rights.
 
While touching on the theoretical structure of the right to be free from poverty,Professor Wang Xigen framed it as “an independent human right” with a complete system of obligations and law enforcement mechanisms,1 whereas Professor Zheng Zhihang focused on China-specific issues in the right to freedom from poverty, pointing out that China’s poverty alleviation policies have not really tackled antipoverty issues from the human rights perspective, and should refocus their efforts on addressing institutional problems that led to poverty following the concept of “structural poverty.”2 In recent years, in the context of the poverty reduction policies or targeted poverty alleviation measures, the human rights perspective with which to look at the poverty reduction effort in China has caught wider attention and drawn diversified interpretations: some interpreting the course of actions of the poverty alleviation in rural areas in China in terms of the human rights discourse, some describing the human rights demand during the targeted poverty alleviation effort,3 and some analyzing and testing specific tasks in targeted poverty alleviation programs against human rights concepts and standards, such as the poverty alleviation through improved education4 and the private sector poverty alleviation.5 Overall, these research and observations have already looked into China’s poverty reduction push from the perspective of human rights, and their common purpose and feature are to observe and capture the poverty reduction in the landscape of human rights. More specifically, they try to interpret the poverty reduction push as a human rights issue and human rights action, and try to define the status of “freedom from poverty” within the concept of human rights and the system of specific rights.
 
There is no denying that this is a constructive approach to observe and understand the poverty reduction effort, adding a human rights mark to the poverty reduction push. Yet at the same time, this approach only provides a single-dimensional insight into the poverty reduction effort, thus leading to some flat or linear understanding. First, to factor poverty reduction in the human rights discourse and the human rights perspective is undoubtedly an important; however, such one-dimensional observation cannot distinctly inform us of what such a shift in the discourse and perspective means or aims to achieve, and whatever effects it brings to human rights per se during and after such a shift. Second, the existing human rights perspective leads to an intuitive understanding: poverty reduction is a human rights issue, and the realization of massive poverty reduction necessarily means a marked improvement in human rights protection. This understanding is of course correct, but also too “linear” and “flat”, which to a certain extent confuses, simplifies or hollows out the complex and multifaceted interaction between poverty reduction and human rights, rendering us prone to neglect an important viewing angle, that is, through poverty reduction itself, we also can observe the driving forces, paths, methods and prospects of realizing human rights, and thus the positioning of human rights in social undertakings and in the broader state governance.
 
B. Extended perspective: the mainstreaming of human rights
 
Generally speaking, the mainstreaming of human rights means the process of “integrating the concept of human rights into the actions of governments or intergovernmental organizations, or in some cases, right-based approaches and viewpoints”6. Advocated by the United Nations, the mainstreaming of human rights has gradually become a development trend across the whole international community through a series of documents and practices, and gained traction in various countries to be part of the philosophy and methodology underlying their state governance in the context of deepening globalization. The central purpose of the mainstreaming of human rights is to have human rights become a value guide for all activities and given priority in all undertakings.
 
As such, the mainstreaming of human rights can provide a two-way perspective. On one hand, it contains the basic view of “Poverty Reduction-Human Rights”, in which we can get a glimpse of the human rights significance of poverty reduction in the context of the mainstreaming of human rights, and understand how or in what aspect a series of massive poverty reduction campaigns in China in recent years have become human rights actions. On the other, it can reverse “the lens”, enabling us to observe and understand human rights through the poverty reduction push, especially to observe and understand the status and development of human rights in the broad-er state governance in China through the “governance revolutions” triggered by poverty governance. Such a two-way perspective arguably leads to a multifaceted understanding which integrates both poverty reduction and human rights, rather than a linear understanding, and thus, poverty reduction, or the freedom from poverty will not only represent and partially realize human rights as their integral part, but also be seen as a driving force behind the holistic development of human rights and their integration into the goals and approaches of state governance.
 
II. Poverty Governance in the Context of the Mainstreaming of Human Rights: Expression and Realization of the Right to Freedom from Poverty
 
Looking at poverty reduction from the perspective of the mainstreaming of human rights is essentially a recognition of the human rights attributes of poverty reduction. Further, it means that poverty reduction is incorporated into the human rights topic of the international community, and rises to be part of human rights affairs for a sovereign state. With the demand for freedom from poverty by the public being an essential human right, poverty reduction will be expressed in the human rights discourse and promoted from a general policy into a human rights practice.
 
A. Freedom from poverty as a human right
 
Historically, poverty has not always been linked to human rights, and it was not included in the domain or agendas of human rights in the era of “Natural Rights”. It was not until 1945 that the humanitarian dimension of human rights was revealed through reflections on the World War II, and human rights have since found a brandnew and more solid foundation: human dignity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” thereby affirming the fundamental significance of human dignity underlying the new world order and its legitimacy. The Declaration further asserts in Article 1 that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” As human dignity has been highlighted, human rights have gained a new lease of life, and the concept of human dignity is also conducive to making it easy to establish an overlapping consensus. Human rights can be embraced even regardless of religious or metaphysical doctrines (such as the Natural Rights) can also be embraced, and thus are more likely to become a universal consensus.
 
With human dignity having been at the heart of the concept and discourse of human rights, the intrinsic link between poverty and human rights has become evident. Thomas Broberg noted that the current global institutional arrangement, which sustains and exacerbates the gaping social and economic inequalities and contributes to half of the global population living in severe poverty, which constitutes a “massive and inexcusable infringement on human dignity,”7 and in the same sense, vocally and bluntly pointed out that the ongoing serious insufficiency of human rights has been found disproportionately among poor populations.8 The ubiquitous and persistent existence of structural poverty, a prominent challenge to the maintenance of human dignity and the realization of human rights, has been a consensus across the international community. For example, the Human Development Report 2000 of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) states bluntly that “poverty restricts the poor’s human liberty and deprives them of their human dignity.”9 It further points out that “poverty eradication is a major human rights challenge in the upcoming twenty-first century.”10 Notably, while reflecting the United Nations’ unremitting efforts to mainstream human rights, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also demonstrates the central position of poverty reduction in both the human rights topic and the development topic. As a central task in the planning under the development topic: one of United Nations’ three major themes,11 the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is also increasingly incorporated under the human rights topic, becoming an important part of the mainstreaming of human rights: it sets 169 specific targets in 17 sustainable development goals, which represent both the integral part of “the unfinished undertakings under the Millennium Development Goals” and the aspiration for “human rights for all.” As noted by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, it “covers all the issues relating to all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”12 and is thus regarded by the United Nations as “a key step towards the realization of human rights.”13 In the opening lines of its preamble, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development declares that “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development”, and it prioritizes the “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions throughout the world” as the first among the 17 goals.
 
With all the information about planned activities and requirements for the year 2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its 2020 Appeal from the commissioner further articulates that human rights are integrated within the sustainable development goals that include poverty reduction, namely, “human rights, including the right to development and the achievements of human rights mechanisms, shall be integrated into the pursuit of the sustain-able development goals as well as other development and poverty eradication efforts in all countries.”14
 
Although the unified connotations and contents of the right to freedom from poverty are not expressly defined in international human rights laws and protocols, it is not difficult to infer them based on the concepts of human dignity.” Generally speaking, the right to freedom from poverty as a human right is a collection of rights having integrated the contents of various rights closely related to poverty, rather than individual rights independent and separate from those in existing international human rights laws and protocols. It has two dimensions: the right to survival, which is about the right specific to the poor, and which contains the right to have access to an adequate standard of living and health, namely the basic living conditions for guaranteeing clothing, foods, housing and traveling; as well as the right to development, which refers to the “right to no longer be a poor person”, contains the right to education and work to create and expand the possibility of the poor getting rid of poverty. As such, the right to freedom from poverty does not ensure that every individual will under no circumstances be trapped in a state of poverty, but rather that he or she will still be able to live in dignity and be able to escape poverty once he or she has been in such a state of poverty.
 
B. Poverty alleviation as a human rights program
 
The poverty alleviation project launched by China in 2015 is also essentially a “human rights effort,” and had distinct human rights marks in terms of either discourses, goals, methods or practical effects, representing an important step forward in China’s mainstreaming of human rights.
 
While China’s long-standing poverty reduction initiatives have objectively contributed to the realization of many specific rights and interests of poor groups, the original intentions of previous poverty reduction initiatives have not been marked by a clear sense of human rights protection. Either in the Seven-Year Poverty Alleviation Program (1994-2000), which aims to lift 80 Million People Out of Poverty, or in the Outline of Development-Oriented Poverty Alleviation for China’s Rural Areas (2001-2010), the goals set were broadly expressed in the terms of “food and clothing”, not only being less relevant to human rights, but also having a relatively narrow coverage of human rights. In contrast, the poverty reduction goal in the new phase, which establishes “targeted poverty alleviation and elimination” as its fundamental strategy, contains a much clearer intention and willingness to protect human rights.
 
Based on the more profound insight into the multidimensional poverty, the two guiding documents: the Decision of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Securing the Decisive Victory over Poverty issued 2015 and the Poverty Alleviation Plan For the 13th Five-Year Plan Period (2016-2020) formulated in 2016 both set the basic goals of poverty eradication as “two no worries and three guarantees”, that is, to accomplish the vision progressively and stably that, based on the current standards of living, poor people in rural areas no longer need to worry about their food and clothing, and have secure access to compulsory education, basic medical care and housing. In addition, the poverty eradication goals in the two documents also contained related requirements on income growth and qualified basic public services for farmers in poor areas. These poverty eradication goals essentially cover a number of important human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to education, the right to health and the equal right to development. Also noteworthy, the Poverty Alleviation Plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan Period (2016-2020) has clearly introduced human rights objectives under its overall goal, for example, “safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of poor migrant workers,” and has proposed to unveil every year a “White Paper on Poverty Reduction Action and Human Rights Progress in China”. The National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2016-2020) also touches on the national poverty reduction effort as an important human rights action, having the indicators and measures on the right to work, an adequate standard of living, education and social security aligned with the goals and measures of poverty reduction. Furthermore, another important development is that, in its section on the “Fundamental Principles”, the Poverty Alleviation Plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan Period (2016-2020) placed special emphasis on “guaranteeing the equal right to participation and development for the poor,” which also reflects the gradual shift in China’s poverty reduction from the previous emphasis on safeguarding economic and social rights to safeguarding political and participatory rights. The targeted poverty alleviation, in terms of policy practice, focuses on household-based approaches, emphasizing “taking measures aimed directly at each household,” and shows respect for the dignity of each individual, which requires the specific realities of each individual must be taken into account and related plans for helping them shake off poverty must be developed based on their unique characteristics.”15 To summarize, it can be seen that China’s poverty reduction action has begun to move toward a conscious human rights push.
 
Poverty alleviation in China as a “human rights program” has not only achieved a shift in discourse, goals and methods, but also reaped a better effect in realizing the right to freedom from poverty. Take as an example the right to an adequate standard of living, by the end of 2018, the proportions of the natural villages in poor rural areas having access to electricity services, fixed-line telephone services, on-line television services and broadband communication services had reached 100 percent, 99.2 percent, 88.12 percent, and 81.9 percent respectively, and the holdings of traditional consumer durables such as refrigerators, washing machines and color TV sets had increased respectively to 87.1 sets, 86.9 sets and 106.6 sets per 100 households in rural areas.16 By the end of 2019, a total of 9.6 million poor individuals registered in the”inhospitable” areas nationwide had been relocated to more liveable environments to help them shake off poverty.17 Likewise, when it comes to the right to education,in addition to improving basic school conditions, improving the student aid service system, implementing student nutrition programs and other measures, the government has also attached greater importance to creating truly equal opportunities for students in poor areas, for example, implementing the special educational program for recruiting students from rural and poor areas at key colleges and universities. The annual enrollment under the special educational program has increased from 10,000 to more than 110,000 since 2012, benefiting a cumulative total of nearly 600,000 students in rural and poor areas and having broadened the access to key colleges and universities to rural poor students.18 In terms of the right to work, through skills training sessions and poverty alleviation workshops, more job opportunities have been provided to poor groups. Data show that 27.29 million poor laborers out of the registered national poor population19 landed jobs outside of their home towns in 2019. In addition, local governments have also created various public welfare-oriented jobs, such as cleaning,security guards and care of the lonely elderly and left-behind children, for poor groups who can’t work out of their hometowns or have no special skills to resort to. Generally speaking, the right to freedom from poverty has been better realized in the dimensions of survival and development.
 
III. Poverty Governance Promotes the Mainstreaming of Human Rights: Driving Governance Changes
 
The value of the targeted poverty alleviation and elimination is not limited to the reduction in the nation’s poor population, but also lies in contributing to the change in the poverty governance mode and the resulting change in the nation’s state governance. In this process, human rights are embedded in the nation’s state governance as both its goal and its approach, demonstrating the mainstreaming trend of human rights in the nation’s state governance. The contribution of the mainstreaming of human rights to poverty governance is mainly reflected in two aspects: the initial formation of the a Human Rights-based Approach to Development and the encouragement to the subjectivity of citizens characterized by primary-level democracy and multiple governance.
 
A. The human rights-based approach to development
 
The mainstreaming of human rights is the process of human rights values and human rights issues playing into other major social topics. As human rights are factored into development issues, the mainstreaming of human rights gives rise to the human rights-based approach to development. As articulated in the FAQs on the Guidelines for Cooperation in Human Rights Development, issued by the Office of the Unit-ed Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “the human rights-based approach to development” is a conceptual framework for the process of human development that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. It seeks to analyze the inequalities which lie at the heart of development problems and redress discriminatory practices and unjust distributions of power that impede development progress.20 From the point of view of a nation’s state and social governance, the essence of the human rightsbased approach to development is to give priority to human rights in development issues, enabling human rights to play the role of value guidance and correction in our pursuit of social development, especially economic growth.
 
On at least two levels, poverty alleviation embodies the human rights-based approach to development in a nation’s state and social governance: on one level, it governs the direction and means of economic and social development, ushering the economy onto the track of pro-poor growth. This pattern of economic development with “pro-poor” characteristics lays more emphasis on whether or not economic growth benefits the poor. Thus it seeks economic growth options that are helpful for the poor, channels more benefits from the growth to the poor, and narrows inequality while reducing poverty.21 A series of policies that China has long implemented, including agricultural support, rural financial facilitation, assistance with farmer-turned workers in urban areas, protection of the lawful rights and interests of migrant workers and others, have already reduced the inequality from economic growth and enhanced the pro-poor effectiveness of economic growth. Poverty alleviation, in a sense, is a strengthened synthesis of these policies in specific periods. It is essentially the government’s intervention in the market. By injecting massive resources into underdeveloped areas and favoring vulnerable groups, these policies have effectively redressed the issue of “the market-oriented resource allocation prone to be in favor of the rich and against the poor.” In this sense, poverty alleviation or targeted poverty alleviation can be construed as “an extraordinary effort to eliminate the structural constraints of poverty,”22 which adds and strengthens the “pro-poor” feature of economic and social development.
 
On the other level, in terms of the means of governance, poverty alleviation has also reflected the development in the nation’s state governance, namely “human rights-oriented state governance”. With strict assessment, poverty alleviation has more or less changed the performance appraisal indexes for local officials, and rectified the unreasonable performance incentive mechanism exclusively focusing on GDP growth rates. For a long time, since the launch of reform and opening-up, the “tournament-like governance mode for local official appraisal and promotion” has, indeed, advanced the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, and the core index in local officials’ tournament-like competition for promotion is the GDP of their respective jurisdictions.23 The excellent performance in China’s economic growth undoubtedly strengthens the system’s dependence on this path, making it harder for the government to wean the country off the pattern of GDP-focused regional development and governance. However, as the resulting inequity, environmental issues and violations of private rights (such as land rights) have worsened over time, this pattern has no longer been effective, valid and justifiable, and it has had to be reformed. The poverty alleviation campaign provides a favorable opportunity for that. The Decision of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Securing the Decisive Victory over Poverty clearly states that “the weight of poverty reduction indicators in the performance assessment of economic and social development in poor counties should be substantially increased,” which is a human rights-based approach to development. According to the guidance of the CPC Central Committee,”the GDP assessment may be dropped for some counties with ecologically fragile conditions, and given a reduced weight for others. The effect of poverty eradication should account for over 60 percent of the total assessment score.”24 Several provinces have formulated and implemented related assessment methods accordingly. As a matter of fact, not only poverty reduction indicators have a significant weight in the performance appraisal of officials, other human rights-related concerns, including the health of the ecological environment, have also found their way into the performance appraisal of local
officials. Such major adjustments to the performance assessment indicators have to some extent set right the development direction of regions, and better tally with the human rights-based approach to development.
 
B. Encouragement to the subjectivity of citizens
 
“Human rights thinking and modes reflect the essence of a nation’s state governance and serve the requirements of modernized state governance.”25 The means, opportunities and motivations are of course necessary to have human rights thinking and modes incorporated into a nation’s state governance. Not only for poverty governance, poverty alleviation is also the practical field for state governance in contemporary China, where it integrates the thinking and methodology of human rights governance into China’s state governance, leveraging and advancing the mainstreaming of human rights in the field of China’s state governance. The most concentrated embodiment during this course is its encouragement to citizen subjectivity, that is to say, it achieve its due ends mainly by enhancing the role of citizens and private-sector organizations in human rights-related public services and broadening access of citizens and private-sector organizations to participation in state governance and human rights governance. At the practical level, it manifests itself in the following two aspects.
 
1. New experiments with democratic participation
 
The “strictest appraisal and assessment system”26 has been implemented for poverty alleviation. Party secretaries and governors in 22 central and western provinces have submitted their Statement of Responsibility for Poverty Alleviation to the CPC Central Committee and made a pledge to achieve their poverty alleviation performance, meaning that poverty alleviation is determined as the political responsibility for the top leader of each province, and their actual performance is subject to special assessment by related central authorities and cross-examination by their fellow provinces each year. Such top-down pressure provides a strong guarantee for the faithful implementation of policies and the realization of rights. Here, we can clearly identify a new trend in governance and accountability: citizen participation. On one hand, the third party evaluation has been institutionalized as the basis for assessing the achievements of poverty alleviation, transforming the closed internal assessment mode in the bureaucratic system into a public governance mechanism with public participation. On the other hand, and more importantly, poverty alleviation assessment has prompted renewed exploration of “primary-level democracy”. In the assessment of poverty alleviation effectiveness at all levels, the satisfaction of poor households matters. For example, if the satisfaction of poor households does not reach a certain level (usually 95 percent), it will seriously affect the overall score of poverty alleviation assessment in a region, and even leads to the “one-vote veto” consequence. This mechanism, which has a clear democratic character and narrows “the distance between the centre of power and individual citizens,”27 has in fact changed the preexisting form of accountability where grassroots cadres have exclusively reported to their superiors into the one where the superiors report to their subordinates and to the public.
 
2. Shifting towards multiple governance
 
While poverty alleviation has been initiated by the government, poverty governance has not been exclusively open to the government. In practice, the government has been working to build a “broader poverty-reduction landscape” with social participation”. The Decision of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Securing a Decisive Victory over Poverty has made a special arrangement for “improving the mechanism for participation of social forces.” With regard to practice, enterprises and social organizations play an important role in poverty alleviation, and their contribution lies not only in providing huge financial inputs and project support, but also in providing a sustainable poverty governance mechanism. Meanwhile, in targeted poverty alleviation policy practice, the encouragement to the endogenous initiative of poor households and the guarantee of participatory rights for poor households also promotes the participation of recipients in poverty governance, and “recognize individuals as the actors in the development process rather than passively receiving aid, services and products,”28 demonstrating the core principles of empowerment and par-ticipation advocated by the mainstreaming of human rights.
 
From a more far-reaching point of view, the deep participation of social forces in poverty alleviation as a human rights program embodies and drives the changes in the state governance pattern in contemporary China, transforms the unitary structure with the state having long been the single player in human rights realization and state governance, and broadens the channels and ways for the private sector to participate in the cause of human rights and state governance. From an instrumental rationality point of view, the cooperation and co-governance of state organs and citizens and civil organizations as well as the cooperation and mutual restrictions of public power and civil rights can reduce the cost of governance and increase the benefits of governance.29 At the same time, the participation of private-sector players, especially of social organizations, provides an interactive reflection mechanism framed by the private sector in a state architecture,”30 as a result, being more conducive to the modernization of the state governance system and governance capacity. Even to look at it based on value norms rather than the instrumental rationality, to promote the participation of private-sector players in state governance is to reshape the relationship between the state and the private-sector players from the one of “control and dependence” to the one of “cooperation-autonomy”,31 and thus, in essence, to uphold the subjectivity and rights of citizens.
 
To sum up, governance practices in poverty alleviation have encouraged the subjectivity of citizens, and also promoted the integration of human rights concepts into state governance through the typical practical methods of mainstreaming human rights, for example, accountability and participatory democracy, and the integration of the sense of democratic rights into state governance, thus driving the mainstreaming of human rights in state governance.
 
IV. Conclusion: Sitting Idle for a Natural Success or Making Efforts to Carve out Watercourses
 
The process and historic achievements of poverty alleviation have become an important part of China’s mainstreaming of human rights, but also serve as the stepping stone for initiating a larger and deeper mainstreaming of human rights in China. As a Chinese proverb puts it: the beginning is the most difficult part of a job. Of course, it is also true for poverty alleviation and the mainstreaming of human rights. Even with the initial difficulties overcome, the remaining part of the journey will not necessarily be easy. For either human rights protection or state governance, it won’t work if the sit idle waiting for “natural” inflows of water, and we instead should have the determination and action to cut a channel for the incoming water. Having had the decisive victory in poverty alleviation, we should set out on the more challenging human rights program of an equality agenda. According to the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Major Issues Concerning Upholding and Improving the System of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Advancing the Modernization of China’s System and Capacity for Governance made at the fourth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, China will proceed to address relative poverty, a new task during its mainstreaming of human rights. But although the awareness of human rights has increased and the human rights-based approach to development has improved as our historic process of combating poverty has advanced, more determination and effort will be needed to promote them beyond poverty governance to a wider field in an orderly manner.
 
Furthermore, there have emerged a lot of new experiments with democratic participation and new trends in multiple governance in poverty alleviation policy practice. Yet, if we poverty these new experiments and trends to remain relevant in broader fields beyond 2020, we have to remove various barriers, whether institutional, mechanisms, or capacity. In other words, the real transition from “marginal participation” to “substantive participation” in human rights and state governance will be an even greater test for us.
 
(Translated by LIU Zuoyong)
 
* ZHENG Ruohan ( 郑若瀚 ), Doctor of Jurisprudence and Lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights, Southwest University of Political Science and Law. This article is the phased findings from the 2016 Doctoral Program in Social Sciences in Chongqing: Evolving Economic Order and Practice of the Right to Development in China (Program No.: 2016 BS048), the 2017 Humanities and Social Science Research Base Project of Chongqing Municipal Education Commission: Institutional Innovation and Legal Guarantee in Targeted Poverty Alleviation (Program No.: 17 SKJ018) and the In-house Research Program of Southwest University of Political Science and Law: Research on Long-term Mechanism of Targeted Poverty Alleviation in Rural Areas (Program No.: 2018 XZQN-26).
 
1. Wang Xigen, “The Right to Freedom from Poverty and its Legal Guarantee Mechanism”, Chinese Journal of Law 1 (2012).
 
2. Zheng Zhihang, “On the Realization of the Right to Freedom from Poverty in China — China’s Poverty Policy-focused Analysis”, Studies in Law and Business 2 (2013).
 
3. Huang Aijiao, “Human Rights Demands, Social Resistances and Realization Pathways of Targeted Poverty Alleviation”, Journal of Northwest University of Agriculture and Forestry Science and Technology (Social Sciences Edition) 2 (2017).
 
4. Gong Xianghe and Lu Xiaoting, “On Targeted Poverty Alleviation through Improved Education from the Perspective of Human Rights”, Journal of Anhui Agricultural University (Social Sciences Edition) 1 (2019).
 
5. Wu Zhihong and Tan Huosheng, “China’s Human Rights Practice of the Rich Helping the Poor Get Rich — an Example of Targeted Poverty Alleviation: Enterprises Provide Paired Support to Poor Villages”, Human Rights, 6 (2018). 
 
6. Zhang Wanhong, “On the Mainstreaming of Human Rights”, Law Review 6 (2016): 35.
 
7. Thomas Broberg, “Expounding on Dignity: Development as the Concept of Global Minimum Justice”, trans. Li Shi, Marxism & Reality 1 (2011).
 
8. Thomas Broberg, “The Human Rights Endorsed by International Law but Against the World’s Poor People”, trans. Deng Xiaozhen, Marxism & Reality 1 (2006).
 
9. United Nations Development Program (UNDP), The Human Development Report 2000 (Beijing: China Financial & Economic Publishing House, 2001), 71.
 
10. Ibid., 8.
 
11. Namely, Security, Development and Human Rights.
 
12. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, accessed May 30, 2020. https://ohchr.org/CH/Issues/SDGS/Pages/The2030Agend;aspx.
 
13. Nie Xiaoyang and Shi Jianguo, “Ban Ki-moon says the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the Key Step to the Realization of Human Rights”, Xinhuanet, accessed May 30, 2020. http://www.xinhuanet.com/
world/2016-03/01/c_1118193765.htm. 
 
14. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, accessed May 30, 2020. https://ohchr.org/CH/AboutUs/ManagementPlan/Pages/sustainable-development.aspx. 
 
15. Zheng Zhihang, “The Chinese Government is Focusing More on the Human Rights Aspect in Poverty”,Guangming Daily, October 18, 2016.
 
16. Wang Shangwu, “Big Data Sheds Light on Major Achievements in Poverty Alleviation”, the website of the Office of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, accessed May 31, 2020. http://www.cpad.gov.cn/art/2019/8/13/art_624_101661.html. 
 
17. Huang Junyi, “The Victory over Poverty is on the Horizon”, China Economic Net, accessed May 31, 2020. http://bgimg.ce.cn/cysc/newmain/yc/jsxw/202005/17/t20200517_34921841.shtml.
 
18. Sun Qingling, “The Special Program Goes on its Course This Year, Having Benefited 600,000 Poor College Students from Rural and Impoverished Areas”, CYOL website, accessed May 31, 2020. http://news.cyol. com/app/2020-05/12/content_18609354.htm.
 
19. Online Exhibition on Poverty Alleviation website, accessed May 31, 2020. http://fpzg.cpad.gov.cn/429463/430986/430990/index.html. 
 
20. UN, “Frequently Ask Questions on Human Rights Based Approach to Development Cooperation”, accessed May 31, 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/FAQen.pdf.
 
21. Zhou Hua, “Research on the Definition, Measurement and Strategy of Pro-poor Growth — the Literature-based Review”, Managing the World 4 (2008).
 
22. Yu Lerong and Li Xiaoyun, “Phased Characteristics and Poverty Reduction Mechanisms of China s Pro-poor Economic Growth”, Guizhou Social Sciences 8 (2019).
 
23. Zhou Lian, “Research on the Championship Model for Chinese Local Official Promotions”, Economic Research 7 (2007).
 
24. The Office of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, “Local Government Accounts for More than 60% of Poverty Alleviation Achievements”, China News, accessed May 31, 2020. http://www.chinanews.com/gn/2015/12-15/7671709.shtml.
 
25. Hou Jian, “Human Rights Thinking and Approaches to State Governance”, Jurisprudence 6 (2017). 
 
26. Liu Yongfu, “The Strictest Assessment System is a Marked Feature of Poverty Alleviation Push in China”, Xinhuanet, accessed June 1, 2020. http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/20181h/2018-03/07/c_129824812.htm.
 
27. Ye Chuanxing, “On the Function of Human Rights in State Governance”, Human Rights 3 (2015): 8.
 
28. Zhang Wanhong, “On the Mainstreaming of Human Rights”, Law Review 6 (2016): 35.
 
29. Zhang Wanhong, “On the Mainstreaming of Human Rights”, Law Review 6 (2016): 35.
 
30. Ma Changshan, “The Shift in Legal System Development Pattern from being State-led to being Concerted and Shared — An Investigation Based on the Relationship between Social Organizations and the Legal System Development”, Chinese Journal of Law 3 (2017): 12.
 
31. Liu Feng and Xiang Deping, “Changes and Trends in the Relationship between Government and Private-sector Organizations in Poverty Governance”, Journal of Agricultural University of China (Social Sciences Edition) 5 (2017).
 
Chinese Dictionary:

@cn_humanrights

For the latest news and analysis from our

reporters and editors:Staff Twitter List>>

E-mail:chinahrs@public.bta.net.cn