Open dialogues help boost human rights
Intellectuals believe open dialogues and concrete partnerships between Europe and China will boost human rights
More than 50 researchers exchanged opinions on human rights at a two-day seminar on July 2-3 at Vrije University Amsterdam in the Netherlands. They believe that human rights in areas such as education, employment and social security can be improved by broader cooperation.
Founded by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, the Europe-China Seminar on Human Rights is an annual event that aims to deepen exchanges between China and Europe. The theme this year was “Protecting the Rights of People with Disabilities”.
Cui Yuying, vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, who is also deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, reiterated President Xi Jinping’s proposal to build a community of shared destiny for mankind.
“China is not only the initiator of this concept, but is a firm advocate and practitioner,” she said at the opening ceremony.
Since 2009, China has enacted and implemented a national human rights plan of action, which makes it one of the four countries that have carried out such programs successively, Cui said.
Fu Zitang, vice-president of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, president of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, said: “People from different cultural backgrounds must be respected, in the essence, the common civilization for humans implies mutual respect for each other.
“In this sense, the seminar, an institutionalized platform, provides an excellent opportunity for scholars to share experiences and facilitate mutual understanding.”
Arend de Kloet, lecturer at The Hague University, appraised the seminar a successful blend of theory and practice, with voices from experts, decision-makers and daily practitioners.
“I’m very curious what’s happening after today, if ideas can be further explored. I’ ll be very happy to be informed of the follow-up,” he said.
Once practiced, ideas exchanged on the seminar will contribute to both Europe and China, de Kloet said.
Tom Zwart, director of the Cross-Cultural Human Rights Center at Vrije University Amsterdam, said concrete actions must be taken jointly to fulfill Xi’s call.
Zwart said academics, representatives from nongovernmental organizations and governments can be invited to the side events set up by the UN’s Human Rights Council where stakeholders can sit together and discuss ideas.
However, Christian Mestre, rector of Robert Schuman University of Strasbourg, said one difficulty is that people in Europe are likely to get limited information about the situation on human rights in China, especially the positive development, partly due to media’s certain preference for specific subject.
“It’s just part of information. There are many things ignored. Human rights concern economy, democracy, justice. It’s involved in every field,” Mestre said.
He called for joint efforts to take the differences into consideration and discover a new approach through new instruments so that both sides can share views frankly.
Divergence no excuse
Pierre Defraigne, executive director for the Belgian think tank known as the Madariaga — College of Europe Foundation, said that divergence between Europe and China shall not be taken as an excuse to avoid collaboration.
Defraigne said what needs to be done, i nstead, is to recognize the differences and integrate toward a better and more united global future for the sake of all humans despite different cultures, social systems and paths of development.
Pierre Bercis, president of the French New Human Rights Foundations, spoke highly of the prominent role such open exchanges will play.
“Everything that progresses eventually converges,” he said.
Contact the writers firstname.lastname@example.org