|Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Liu Zhenmin at 3rd Committee of 61st Session of the General Assembly on Human Rights (Item 66 b,c)|
This year is of important significance to the work of the United Nations in the area of human rights. Thanks to the efforts of all member States, the General Assembly adopted the resolution on establishing the Human Rights Council, which provides us with a historic opportunity to address issues concerning human rights from a new perspective and using a different approach. It is the joint responsibility of all member States to seize this historic opportunity to bring about a thorough change of both the concept and the mechanism of human rights so as to open up a new vista in the area of international human rights. In this context, I would like to make the following observations:
Firstly, universal enjoyment of human rights cannot be realized without effective maintenance of international peace and security. Currently, many parts of the world are beset by violence, strife, even armed conflict and bloodshed that have trampled on the fundamental human rights of innocent people. The United Nations should exert greater efforts in conflict prevention, peace-building and combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The Human Rights Council should, as a priority, focus its attention on massive violations of human rights caused by armed conflicts, especially international armed conflicts.
Secondly, universal enjoyment of human rights can become reality only when the legitimate concerns of the developing countries are appropriately addressed. Not all countries have benefited from the enormous wealth generated by economic globalization. Many developing countries, especially the least developed countries, constrained by poverty, disease and environmental degradation, lack the most basic conditions for achieving human dignity, freedom and human rights. The international community and the developed countries in particular should faithfully fulfill their commitments by taking effective measures to assist the developing countries implement the millennium development goals. We note with appreciation that in her report, the High Commissioner for Human Rights has set as future priorities the promotion of the right to development and the eradication of poverty. We hope that the imbalanced approach to the two categories of human rights will be effectively redressed.
Thirdly, universal enjoyment of human rights calls for showing special respect for the rights and interests of vulnerable groups. Discrimination and prejudice based on various reasons, such as national origin, race, color, gender, language and religion, still exist in the world today. Women, children, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups very often bear the brunt of acts of violation of human rights. We welcome the adoption in recent months of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and hope that these instruments be soon translated into concrete actions.
Fourthly, universal enjoyment of human rights demands greater efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation. It is the reality of our world that there are diverse social systems, levels of development, religious heritages and ideologies. One of the lessons drawn from the Commission on Human Rights is that power politics runs contrary to democratic principles, and that confrontation will not give rise to the culture of human rights. Nations with different social systems and at different levels of development should respect and learn from each other and advance together through dialogue and cooperation.
The Human Rights Council is now working on setting up its mechanisms and procedures. In this crucial phase, all sides should demonstrate both resolve and patience in a joint endeavor to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation necessary for consultations on an equal footing, thus making a good beginning of and laying down a solid foundation for the Council's work in the future.
We believe that the Universal Periodic Review should be conducted in accordance with the principle of justice, fairness, objectivity and non-selectivity with a view to promoting a constructive dialogue rather than allegations and accusations among nations on issues of human rights. The human rights special procedures should be set up in a democratic and transparent manner and their operation should strictly comply with the mandate and the specific rules of conduct set up by the Council. The reform of human rights treaty bodies should be aimed at reducing the burdens of the states parties, improving efficiency, avoiding duplicative reviews and saving resources. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should carry out its work in accordance with its mandate, improve the regional representation and professionalism of its staff and accept the supervision by the member States in a more open and transparent manner. As a member of the Human Rights Council, China stands ready to work together with other countries to participate actively and constructively in the consultations on the above-mentioned issues and strive for a fair and reasonable outcome through consensus so as to make the Council credible, dynamic and efficient.
The Chinese government has always taken the promotion and protection of human rights as one of its major responsibilities. Our overall objective in promoting and protecting human rights is to establish a harmonious society and achieve comprehensive human development in accordance with the principle enshrined in our Constitution that "human rights are respected and safeguarded by State" and through a people-centered holistic development strategy. The Chinese government attaches great importance to assisting the vulnerable groups. Since January 1, 2006, we have completely repealed agricultural taxes which have been levied in our country for 2,000 years, thus alleviating the burden of 800 million Chinese farmers. By amending the Compulsory Education Act, we plan to waive within two years all the tuition and miscellaneous fees for compulsory education in rural areas so as to better guarantee the right to education of about 160 million children in rural areas. We have been continuously improving our human rights legislation and the democratic system at the grass roots level. We are now amending three major codes of procedural law, namely, the codes of criminal, civil and administrative procedures. Efforts are also being made to promote judicial reform and strengthen judicial supervision. We have actively carried out international exchanges, cooperation and dialogue in the field of human rights and are working earnestly with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to implement the Memorandum of Understanding relating to human rights technical cooperation.
It goes without saying that, for China, a developing country with 1.3 billion people, much remains to be done in the area of promoting and protecting human rights. We are confident that, through our unremitting and determined efforts, we will make steady progress in the area of human rights in China. China stands ready to enhance cooperation with other countries in a joint bid for the healthy development of the cause of human rights at the international level.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.