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Focus on Editor’s Note
May 29,2022   By:CSHRS
Focus on Editor’s Note
 
ZHANG Yonghe*
 
The COVID-19 pandemic is a global catastrophe faced by the whole of mankind. It takes tens of thousands of lives every day worldwide. The future of human society will become unimaginably gloomy if we fail to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and control the pandemic. Who can play the most important role in fighting severe crises and disasters? States, of course. In human rights theory and practice, the rights to life and health have always been considered fundamental human rights. Each state must give top priority to safeguarding the lives and health of its people. All countries need to rise to the challenge and shoulder their due responsibilities to safeguard human rights and promote the spirit of humanism, equality and fairness. This is why states are important, which also embodies the ultimate virtue of states. The 2021 China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights was held in Chongqing on June 8, 2021, under the theme of “COVID-19 Pandemic and Guarantee of the Right to Life and Health.” The seminar focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health emergency of international concern. It brought together representatives of United Nations organizations as well as human rights experts and scholars from more than 20 countries. Participants exchanged views and explored practical experiences related to addressing economic and social changes around the world and changes in the international landscape caused by the crisis. This research project invited four scholars from both home and abroad to share their views on this topic from different perspectives.
 
Marxism calls for building a “union of free men” and advocates forming a global pattern in which all peoples are interdependent and every individual can achieve comprehensive and free development in the union. The unexpected outbreak of novel coronavirus made it imperative that all countries actively assume the obligation to jointly achieve coordinated governance of the international community, and mediate disagreements and conflicts in the distribution of global public interests through active institutional arrangements, so as to achieve tangible fairness and accelerate the development of a community with a shared future for human beings. Through reviewing international human rights instruments such as the Charter of the United Nations, professor Zhao Shukun shows that the practice of protecting human rights through international cooperation has a long history, and the advent of a “risk society” intensifies the necessity of international cooperation in this regard. He also presents several effective suggestions on international cooperation. 
 
The pandemic prevention and control work is a test of a country’s social governance capacity and political ideas. In the process of fighting the pandemic,Chinese President Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has continually stressed putting people’s life and health first, which is the best interpretation of the human rights concept. The Chinese government has always focused on protecting people’s right to life and health, and made safeguarding every citizen’s basic rights the fundamental goal of all work. Professor Zuliyati Simayi interprets the “people-centered” human rights concept from the Marxist perspective, and reviews the evolution of the CPC’s ideas in protecting people’s life and health from a historical perspective, and demonstrates how the Chinese government strongly safeguards the right to life and health of people of all ethnic groups in terms of personnel mobilization, materials distribution, technological support, etc. “The people are the foundation of a country and only when the people lead a good life can the country thrive.” This proverb represents the successful experience in human rights protection that China offers to the world. 
 
Professor Carlo Capria introduces the experiences of various members of European Union in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, analyzes past international development cooperation and looks to the problems that need to be overcome in the future. He also expresses support for the China-proposed concept of building a community with a shared future for all human beings. 
 
The role of states, the nature of state power, and disputes arising from duties of states. All of these topics are core issues of political philosophy. In the face of the pandemic, what responsibilities and obligations should governments take? What kind of governance logic should governments adopt to strengthen their legitimacy? Those questions are worth discussing. Theoretical clarification of governments’ responsibilities should eventually be implemented in practice, which is the only way to demonstrate a country’s governance capacity. On the basis of analyzing relevant Russian data, Professor Elizabeth Aleksanderrovna Flalova interprets the Russian government’s basic principles in protecting citizens’ rights to life, health and work, and explains how it guarantees citizens’ safety at work and how it reduces citizens’ risk of infection in workplaces. 
 
The views in the four papers help us deeply understand the difficulties and challenges faced by the world human rights cause, ponder over states’ obligation to protect human rights in the face of public health crises, and push forward the current human rights research theory and practice. This conversation by writing just served as a modest spur to induce more people to come forward with their valuable views. I hope the academia will conduct precise analysis and in-depth interpretation on these topics from a broader perspective, so as to achieve more excellent academic results. 
 
(Translated by LIU Haile)
 
* ZHANG Yonghe ( 张永和 ), Executive Director, Professor and Doctorial Supervisor of the Human Rights Institute of Southwest University of Political Science and Law. 
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