China Europe Seminar Explores Human Rights in Pandemic
June 09,2021   By:ICHONGQING
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Chongqing, June 9, 2021  -- The 2021 China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights was held in Chongqing and Rome on 8th June. The international seminar focused on COVID-19 and Guarantee of the Right to Life and Health, and was conducted online through a conferencing application in tandem with physical offline conferences, which saw the participation of over 100 guests from more than 20 countries and international organizations in Chongqing and Rome.
Chinese and European human rights experts and scholars held discussion and exchange on the questions of judicial protection of human rights, governance of urban communities, and right to life of the elderly in the context of COVID-19 prevention and control.
Attendees including political leaders, experts and scholars in the field of human rights took part in five parallel sessions to discuss a range of sub-topics, with four taking place at the Yuzhou Hotel in Chongqing, and the last being held at the Hive Hotel in Rome.
The Seminar was organized by the Human Rights Institute of Southwest University of Political Science and Law and the Chongqing Center for Equal Social Development. The event was sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Cina in Italia Magazine, with participating venues set up in Chongqing and Rome.
China a bright example to follow
Mr. Qiangba Puncog, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress, President of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, spoke at the opening ceremony.
“Since the pandemic outbreak, China has made important contributions to safeguarding public health nationally and worldwide. China has advocated a common health community worldwide. China has launched a global humanitarian operation with vaccine assistance to more than 80 developing countries with 300 million doses supplied. China has provided US$2 billion in assistance to developing countries affected by the epidemic in order restore economic and social development, and has provided material assistance to over 150 countries and 13 international organizations.”
Six opening addresses featured during the ceremony which were followed by a series of themed keynote speeches from high profile authorities on human rights issues, moderated by Mr. Shen Yongxiang, vice president of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, and specialist of the UN Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
“When the epidemic in Italy was at its worst, the Chinese government dispatched an airplane from Shanghai with abundant medical equipment and professional doctors who brought advanced and effective medical practices. 63% of Italian respondents praised the Chinese doctors as our relationship with China grows ever closer. ” Mr. Luca Rizzo Nervo, member of the Parliament of Italy, and member of the National Assembly Health Committee addressed the opening ceremony. 
“This seminar is a new opportunity for communication between different cultures, and represents a new stage of friendship between Italy and China. China and Italy must work together, develop together, and continue to support each other.” Mr. Luca said.
Whether vaccination is a civic duty or personal choice to exercise the right to life? Mr. Alexandros Modiano, chairman of the Board at the West East Urban Governance Institute suggested that,  Countries that have so far managed to lead the way in the global war against the pandemic were those who can display a high level of civic duty and commitment among their citizens, those who care for their citizens and nurture a sense of belonging.
“China today are certainly among the bright examples to follow. It is an obligation for the state to provide vaccinations to as many citizens as soon as possible, while the citizen has is a duty to accept this offer and protect themselves, their families, colleagues at work, their neighbors, and society at large.” Mr. Alexandros said.
Swift action and mutual understanding paramount
“We saw that some countries did not put the right to life and health first in the early stage of the epidemic, and more consideration was given to personal freedoms, the economy, and employment. Now, many lives have been lost to the pandemic, and the economy has not recovered well. ” Chang Jian, director of the Human Rights Research Center of Nankai University told iChongqing in an exclusive interview during the seminar in Chongqing.
“This means we have to learn profound lessons. In the successful experiences of Singapore and China, the government took swift and coordinated action so that the epidemic can be effectively managed.” Mr.Chang said.
Chen Shiqiu, consultant of the China Society for Human Rights Studies told iChongqing reporter that the most important aspect is to strengthen communication. Europeans and Chinese still don’t understand each other well enough. China does not understand them, and they understand the Chinese even less. As a result, many Europeans are undoubtedly suspicious due to the influence of malicious propaganda. “Now, we need various methods to strengthen exchange between the peoples of China, Europe and other countries worldwide to enhance mutual understanding and trust.”
Personal freedom and social responsibility
The five parallel seminar meetings preceeded the closing ceremony, and focused on topics as Challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic to Contemporary Guarantees of the Right to Life and Health, and State Responses, the Right to Life and Health Protection of Specific Groups in Covid-19 Pandemic, State Responsibility for the Right to Life in Public Health Crises, International Cooperation in the Prevention and Control of Covid-19 Pandemic, and Guarantees of Citizens’ Right to Health by Italian Government during Covid-19 Pandemic in Rome.
Canadian writer, teacher and iChongqing editor Jorah Kai Wood attended the first parallel meeting on challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and contemporary guarantees of the right to life, during which he gave a speech where he reflected upon his own experiences of the pandemic in Chongqing, shared his thoughts on balancing personal freedoms with social responsibility, and offered his understanding of how the pYuzhandemic has been handled in Canada and elsewhere.
“After 16 months, it’s clear that countries with strong NPIs (non-pharmaceutical) such as masks, social distancing, and good ventilation rules for indoor areas, quarantines, and high levels of test and tracing are doing much better than the ones that have been slow to adapt or reluctant to enforce pandemic protocols.
While some people argue that infringements on individuals rights to go outside, send their kids to school, or being forced to wear a mask is unethical in a free society, I believe we should focus more on our wartime obligations to each other, that we have a duty to protect each other, rather than a right to prolong and exacerbate the pandemic.
I would really hope that in the future, the world can cooperate better to create and enforce unilateral pandemic measures designed to protect both nations and citizens.”
It is understood the China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights was first held in 2015 at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and was successively held in the cities of Chongqing, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Vienna each year from 2016-19.
This seminar has formed an institutionalized academic platform for in-depth exchange and cooperation between China and the EU in the field of human rights, and has in previously years focused on the protection of rights for children, minorities, and the disabled, as well as the comparison of values in human rights between East and West.
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