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Statement by Ambassador Shen Guofang, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN, at the Third Committee of the 56th Session of the G.A on the Issue of Human Rights (Item 119 b, c, d, e)

2001/11/14
Mr. Chairman,

The protection and promotion of human rights constitute a common goal for people of all nations.   To achieve this goal, we should work together to establish a peaceful and secure international environment, gradually narrow the gap among countries in terms the level of development, attach equal importance to the two categories of human rights and solve disputes on the issue of human rights among countries through dialogue and cooperation.

I. International peace and security stand as a precondition for the protection and promotion of human rights.  It has been demonstrated in the past as in the present that without a peaceful and secure environment, no protection can be possibly provided by for either civil and political rights or economic, social and cultural rights.  It is the tragic experience of large-scale human rights violations during the two world wars in the last century that prompted the establishment, in the Charter of the United Nations, of the purpose of maintaining international peace and security as well as the principles of respect for sovereign equality and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.  

Regrettably, however, the existing hot-spot issues, including the Middle East issue, remain unsolved and are even going from bad to worse.   This is harmful not only to international peace and security but also to the basic human rights of the local people.  We sincerely hope that Palestine and Israel will resolve their disputes through peaceful negotiations and realize durable peace in the Middle East in accordance with relevant resolutions of the United Nations.

In today's world, factors threatening international peace and security are becoming more and more complicated.  The September 11 incident has been not only an enormous disaster to the American people but also a new challenge to international peace and security.  The Chinese Government has all along condemned and opposed terrorism in all its forms and steadfastly supported cooperation in the international community against terrorism.  We believe that it is the protection of human rights that has made it necessary to combat terrorism and therefore activities against terrorism should be carried in a manner that conforms to the purpose of protecting human rights.

II. It is of great significance to the realization of universal human rights to narrow the gap of the level of development among countries.  Underdevelopment has seriously restrained developing countries' capacity and means to protect and promote human rights. With the rapid development of economic globalization, this situation is deteriorating with each passing day. Today, the international community has widely recognized the right to development as an important human right. And the Human Rights Commission has also established a working group on the right to development. We hope that, at the upcoming third meeting of the working group, countries will fully demonstrate their political will to promote the right to development, avoid dwelling on disputes about academic concepts, focus on studying obstacles for the realization of the right to development, especially at the international level, and make concrete proposals on how to remove them.

III. The international community should attach equal importance to the civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Human rights should be viewed as a whole concept, which includes not only civil and political rights but also economic, social and cultural rights. We are glad to see that the international community is achieving more and more agreement on properly understanding and giving equal treatment to the two categories of human rights.  We hope that the international community can take effective measures to help developing countries achieve economic and social development so that their people can better enjoy economic, social and cultural rights.

IV. Dialogue and cooperation constitute the right approach to resolving the disputes over human rights among countries. With the deepening of globalization, especially the latest developments in the world situation, it has become all the more clear to people all over the world that countries need to cooperate with one another in addressing the affairs in the world today. We respect and endorse the principle of universality of human rights, but we believe at the same time that each country has the right to choose its specific ways to protect and promote human rights on the basis of its national situation.  Differences of views on human rights among countries should be resolved through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Mr. Chairman,

The Declaration and Program of Action adopted at the World Conference against Racism held last September has been an important international instrument on human rights.  It is both relevant and extremely important, in light of the current international situation, to strictly implement the request made by this instrument to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.  We hope that the international community and governments of all countries will formulate national plans and establish follow-up mechanisms in accordance with the requests of the Declaration and Program of Action so as to attain the goals it has provided.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Government and its people have made great achievements in promoting and protecting human rights in recent years.  China has been enjoying a rapid economic growth, social stability and a huge improvement of the living standards of its people as a whole.  With the smooth and successful implementation of the Ninth Five-Year Plan of National Economic and Social Development, we have successfully realized two historical leap-forwards, from poverty to sufficient food and clothing for all and to a relatively comfortable life for all.  And in order to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in the country, China is undertaking a comprehensive reform of the judicial system, covering the aspects of the courts, procurators and lawyers, and has begun to establish a system of legal assistance across the country.  The projects provided by the MOU on Cooperation between the Chinese Government and the UN Commission on Human Rights are being implemented step by step.  The two sides have already co-sponsored three seminars, entitled respectively "Penalties for Minor Offences", "Human Rights and the Police" and "Human Rights and Education".  The two sides have also signed the agreement on cooperation projects for the next year.  This year, the Chinese Government submitted its national report on the implementation of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to the UN Commission on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for review.  The Chinese legislature ratified, on 28 February 2001, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which came into effect on 27 June 2001.  Currently, relevant departments of the Chinese Government are working on concrete plans to implement all its obligations stipulated in this Covenant.  And in order to resolve differences, enhance mutual understanding and learn from one another, we have conducted human rights dialogues on a wide range of topics with countries that have different social systems and values from China, including the US and the EU.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Government is fully confident that it will be able to further improve the level of human rights enjoyed by its people and willing to make its contribution to the international human rights cause.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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