A new era for hu­man rights across the world

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

In the re­port he de­liv­ered to the open­ing of the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China on Oct 18, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Xi Jin­ping said that as a re­sult of the trans­for­ma­tive changes that have been made dur­ing the past five years, the coun­try is bet­ter pre­pared than ever be­fore to take on the chal­lenges in the new era.

One of the many fields in which China has made sig­nif­i­cant progress over the past five years is hu­man rights. This is ex­em­pli­fied by the book pub­lished on the eve of the congress ti­tled China’s New Achieve­ments in Hu­man Rights (20122017). One of the achieve­ments the book high­lights is the strength­en­ing of the rule of law since the Fourth Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in 2014. An am­bi­tious agenda was adopted at this plenum, with spe­cial em­pha­sis on ju­di­cial re­form, and it has since been im­ple­mented with speed and con­vic­tion. Like any­where else, there are mis­car­riages of jus­tice in China, but many mea­sures are now in place to try to pre­vent them.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant hu­man rights achieve­ment that has been made over the past five years has been the lift­ing of 14 mil­lion peo­ple out of poverty each year with the help of nar­rowly tar­geted pro­grams. Fur­ther­more, dur­ing the same pe­riod, the av­er­age life ex­pectancy in China has risen by 18 months and is now close to 76.5 years.

China’s pres­ence in the in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights dis­course is also be­com­ing more ev­i­dent, and it is of­fer­ing Chi­nese wis­dom to tackle in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights prob­lems.

China is also ac­tively pro­mot­ing peo­ple’s right to de­vel­op­ment, and it has de­voted a white pa­per to this, and it held an im­por­tant con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on the topic at the end of last year.

China’s new era in hu­man rights is not lim­ited to de­vel­op­ments at home, but also ex­tends to mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions in the in­ter­na­tional arena. Thus, China has be­come a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to UN an­tipiracy and peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions, to which it has com­mit­ted more troops than any other per­ma­nent mem­ber of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

China’s pres­ence in the in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights dis­course is also be­com­ing more ev­i­dent, and it is of­fer­ing Chi­nese wis­dom to tackle in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights prob­lems. In­creas­ingly, del­e­ga­tions from other UN mem­ber states are look­ing to­ward the Chi­nese Mis­sion in Geneva for guid­ance, co­or­di­na­tion and lead­er­ship. And by or­ga­niz­ing side events, non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the China So­ci­ety for Hu­man Rights Stud­ies have made in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences more aware of China’s hu­man rights poli­cies.

The ex­pec­ta­tion is that China’s role within the in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights com­mu­nity will fur­ther in­crease dur­ing the next five years. An in­di­ca­tion of this was the speech de­liv­ered by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at the Davos World Eco­nomic Fo­rum at the be­gin­ning of this year.

Ac­cord­ing to Xi, the global gov­er­nance sys­tem has not adapted to the chang­ing global sit­u­a­tion over the past few decades, such as the emer­gence of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. The lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tive­ness and in­clu­sive­ness in global gov­er­nance needs to be ad­dressed by build­ing a com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture for mankind.

Build­ing a com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture for mankind re­quires all voices to be heard, not only those of the de­vel­oped coun­tries. This means tap­ping into the wis­dom and knowl­edge of all peo­ple and so­ci­eties. Build­ing a com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture for all mankind, as pro­posed by Xi, means that all coun­tries will be­come full stake­hold­ers in the global gov­er­nance sys­tem.

As Xi in­di­cated in his re­port to the 19th CPC Na­tional Congress, China has de­vel­oped its own in­de­pen­dent path to­ward modernization and de­vel­op­ment, while re­ly­ing on so­cial­ism with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics and tra­di­tional Chi­nese val­ues. As he sug­gested, this path can serve as a model for other coun­tries and na­tions.

South-South co­op­er­a­tion in the area of hu­man rights is part of this com­mon jour­ney. For this rea­son, China is host­ing a con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber to ex­plore closer South-South hu­man rights co­op­er­a­tion. The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor of cross-cul­tural law at Utrecht Univer­sity and gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Cross-cul­tural Hu­man Rights Cen­tre.

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