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Statement by Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yishan on Human Rights (Item 117 b.c.e.) at the 3rd Committee of the 58th Session of the General Assembly
(14 November 2003)

2003/11/14


Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, allow me to express my condolences upon the tragic deaths of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Sergio de Mello and other United Nations staff.In the many years that I worked with Mr. Sergio de Mello, I was deeply impressed by his impartiality and affability, his remarkable wisdom and outstanding diplomatic skills and his total dedication to the work of the United Nations.We will forever cherish the important contributions he made to the causes of human rights and of peace and progress for mankind.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Delegation has read carefully the report of the Officer-in-Charge of the OHCHR, Mr. Ramcharan, to the present session of the General Assembly.The report includes a comprehensive analysis on the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the right to development and economic, social and cultural rights, human rights protection in armed conflict, women's rights, human rights education, terrorism, and the strengthening of human rights treaty institutions. It also contains recommendations on improving the future work of the OHCHR.For this, we express our appreciation.

Mr. Chairman,

This year marks the 10thanniversary of the Vienna International Conference on Human Rights.Ten years ago, in their determination to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, representatives from various countries formulated theVienna Declaration and Programme of Actionafter sincere, intense and sometimes even heated discussions.In the past ten years, guided by the Declaration and Programme, the international community has made considerable progress and striking accomplishments in promoting and protecting human rights.We feel sincerely heartened by these achievements.However, we cannot but see that many problems still exist in the field of human rights.Taking due note of them and finding means to solve them is our best way of commemorating the Vienna Conference.In this context, I wish to make the following comments and proposals:

1.The promotion and protection of human rights is predicated on achieving lasting peace and security.Mankind has entered a new century, but world peace remains elusive.Conflicts, turmoil and even armed conflicts and bloodshed still plague the international community in various regions of the world.These are all gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.Only when the international community establishes a new security concept with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination at the core, is it possible to ultimately prevent massive violations of human rights and meet mankind's aspirations for lasting peace and prosperity for all.

2. The legitimate concerns of the developing countries must be addressed. Economic, social and cultural development is the key to the realization of human rights whereas poverty and disease are the major obstacles to the enjoyment of these rights. In a world of economic globalization, how to realize the economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development is a challenge facing not only the large numbers of developing countries, but the developed ones as well. While the developing countries account for three-fourth of the world's population and two-thirds of the UN membership, their combined GDP only accounts for one-fifth of the world's total, and the majority of the poor are found in the developing countries. First among the millennium goals set forth at the Millennium Summit is the adoption of practical measures to alleviate the poverty of the developing countries. Therefore, the international community, and the developed countries in particular, must, through effective international cooperation, help the developing countries overcome their real difficulties in the process of development so as to create conditions for the full realization of various human rights and fundamental freedoms.

3. The correct approach to the issue of human rights is to strengthen exchanges of views and cooperation. Our world is a diversified one in which countries differ not only in their historical backgrounds and cultural traditions, but also in the stages and levels of their economic and social development. Hence it is quite natural and little surprising that there should be divergent views and differences on the issue of human rights. All countries should handle state-to-state relations in accordance with international law and democratic principles, respect one another, seek common ground while setting aside differences, learn from one another and join hands in promoting the universal realization of human rights. It has been proven that political confrontation will not lead to a culture of human rights. Only by way of dialogue and cooperation can human rights be best promoted.

Mr. Chairman:

The Chinese government has always respected and protected human rights. Over the past 20 years of reform and opening up to the outside world, the percentage of the Chinese population living in poverty has fallen to the lowest level in history and the 1.3 billion Chinese people, by and large, now enjoy a relatively decent living standard. Guided by the principle of the rule of law, China is actively improving its political democracy and legal system to ensure democratic elections, democratic decision-making process, democratic management and democratic oversight under the law so that all men are equal before the law. The Chinese legislative bodies have revised the Criminal law and the Code of Criminal procedure and formulated a series of other laws such as the the Police Act, the Prosecutors Act, the Judges Act and the Law on Lawyers and Legal Representation. At present, the Chinese judicial bodies are pressing ahead with opening up the systems governing police work, prosecution, trials and prison administration. The Chinese government is also keen on spreading legal knowledge among the citizens and raising their awareness of their rights.

The Chinese government highly values international exchanges and cooperation in the realm of human rights and has conducted wide-ranging dialogues with many countries, which yielded rich results and deepened mutual understanding. The projects jointly run by China and OHCHR are also well under way.

As is the case with other countries, there is still room for improvement in the promotion and protection of human rights in China. We will continue our efforts in confidence and increasingly enhance various human rights and fundamental freedoms enjoyed by our people and, together with other countries, make our due contributions to the promotion of human rights on a global scale.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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