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Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan,Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, in the Third Committee of 57th Session of the General Assembly on Human Rights

2002/11/05
Mr. Chairman,

Speaking for the first time in the Third Committee, I wish to start by congratulating you as well as other members of the Bureau on your elections.  It is my conviction that, under your able leadership, the Committee is sure to successfully accomplish its tasks.  I would also like to assure you the full support of my delegation in your work.

Mr. Chairman,

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights.  Since the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the international community has made substantial progress in promoting and protecting human rights. The establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has enhanced the coordination of the activities of the United Nations in the human rights field.  The Open-ended Working Group on the right to development has held three sessions.   In addition, we also held last year in South Africa the World Conference against Racism.  All these achievements are made possible by the concerted efforts on the part of the international community.  However, if we are to meet the goals and requirements set forth in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, much remains to be done.

The Commission on Human Rights is the most important organ of the United Nations to consider, uphold, promote and protect human rights.  How to improve and strengthen the work of the Commission has been a subject of constant reflection on the part of many.  Allow me to make some observations on this very subject.

First, we need to take effective measures to reduce confrontation.  In the wake of this year's session of the Commission on Human Rights, some countries complained about the adoption of group positions by the Asian and African countries on many issues, which, in their view, resulted in political confrontation in the Commission.  However, it is the view of the overwhelming majority of countries, including China, that the problem of political confrontation does exist in the Commission, but by no means emerged only   this year, and cannot be attributed to the Asian and African countries.  The root cause of political confrontation in the Commission lies in the fact that some countries and groups of countries are still clinging to the cold war mentality in politicizing the human rights issue and are fond of using country resolutions as a means to exert pressure on developing countries.  Asian and African countries are the major victims of this type of misguided group positions.  It is our hope that these countries and groups of countries will, in the interest of the overall objective of upholding and promoting human rights, engage in serious soul-searching and take concrete actions to resolve the serious problem of political confrontation in the Commission.

Secondly, we need a balanced approach to the two types of human rights.  The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action provides that "All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated" and that "the international community should promote an effective international cooperation for the realization of the right to development and the elimination of obstacles to development".  Yet as we speak, the reality remains that the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer.  There are still 1.3 billion people who subsist on less than a dollar a day, and more than 130 million children in developing countries still cannot go to school.  Globalization has not brought prosperity to all countries but is threatening many developing countries with marginalization.  At the same time, increase in development assistance and elimination of obstacles to development remain pious wishes on the part of  many developing countries. The Commission on Human Rights still has a tendency of giving short shrift to economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development.  Many years after its establishment, the Open-ended Working Group on the Right to Development of the Commission still encounters a multitude of difficulties in its work.  Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, the newly appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, indicated at an informal meeting of the Commission that he would work to strike a balance between the two types of human rights and work toward the realization of the right to development.  It is the hope of the Chinese delegation that the international community will accord the same importance to the right to development as it does to other human rights so as to realize in a true sense the universality and indivisibility of human rights.

Thirdly, international cooperation in the field of human rights needs to be further strengthened.  The promotion and protection of human rights is a shared and common responsibility of the international community.  With enhanced cooperation, human rights will thrive, whereas obsession with confrontation will only seriously set back the efforts to promote human rights.  The Chinese government has always advocated enhanced cooperation in the human rights field with a view to upholding and promoting human rights throughout the world.  China has been working relentlessly to this end.  The Chinese government is actively engaged in international exchanges and cooperation in the human rights field and accords high priority to its cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.   The Chinese government and the OHCHR successfully implemented the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation for the year 2000.  On that basis, the Second-Stage Plan for technical cooperation to promote human rights in China was signed by the two parties last year.  On the bilateral front, we have not only collaborated in the human rights field with developing countries by capitalizing on our complementarities and drawing on each other's experiences, but also engaged in dialogues with the U.S.A., Canada, Norway, Australia and the European Union, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding.

Mr. Chairman,

Upholding and promoting human rights is an important responsibility of national governments.  In the light of its national conditions and the aspirations of its people, the Chinese government strives to improve the livelihood of its people and their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights while constantly expanding the scope of civil and political rights and fundamental freedoms.  The Chinese government has achieved significant results through immense efforts to promote and protect human rights.  However, no country can claim a perfect score in its human rights record.  The Chinese government stands ready to continue learning from and cooperating with other countries in real earnest, so as to constantly improve the enjoyment of all human rights by the people of all the countries, including China.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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