|Statement by Mr. DUAN Jielong, Director-General of Treaty and Law Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, at the Sixth Committee of the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 86 "The Rule of Law at the National and International Levels"|
|New York, 25 October 2007|
The Chinese delegation is in favor of continuing to consider the agenda item concerning the rule of law at national and international levels in the Sixth Committee. We believe that this exercise can help facilitate exchanges and cooperation among states in the area of the rule of law, enhance mutual understanding and trust, and broaden areas of consensus.
The rule of law is a universal goal for all nations, also an effective instrument for establishing and maintaining social order, promoting and achieving social justice and advancing social progress. The Chinese government believes that, in respect of building rule of law at the national level, every nation has the right to choose a model that is suitable to its own situation. There is no cookie-cutter model of rule of law that is applicable to all countries in the world. Countries can learn from one another's models of the rule of law, learn from other's strong points to offset one's own weaknesses, and advance the rule of law together. Only by adapting in an innovative manner the general rules of the development of the rule of law to one's specific domestic conditions, can a nation successfully find a way to develop the rule of law that is most suitable to its development.
In the past two decades, China has worked actively to explore and develop a system of the rule of law that best reflects its own specific characteristics and achieved rich experiences and remarkable progress in the following areas.
First, establishing a basic legal system is the prerequisite of the rule of law. In China, there are about 230 effective laws, including the Constitution and basic laws, such as constitutional laws, administrative laws, civil laws, business laws, social laws, economic laws, environmental laws, criminal laws and procedural and non-procedural laws as well as more than 700 administrative regulations and 8000 local regulations in conjunction with those laws. China has established a basic socialist legal system with the Constitution at the core that reflects the specific conditions of the country and provides laws and regulations in political, economic, social and cultural areas.
Second, compliance with the law is fundamental to the rule of law. The Chinese legislative bodies, the Chinese government, courts and procuratorates execute their respective functions in compliance with the law. The Chinese citizens and legal persons also carry out their activities in accordance with the law. It is now a fundamental principle for the government to administer its power in full compliance with the law. This principle is upheld through legislations such as Administrative Procedural Law, Administrative License Law, Administrative Reconsideration Law and Administrative Penalty Law, and by a whole set of systems concerning administrative decision-making, reconsideration, supervision and accountability, In this way, the power of the administrative bodies are regulated by law so as to keep them from violating the law and encroaching upon the rights and interests of citizens.
Third, respecting and safeguarding human rights are an essential element in the rule of law. Subsequent to the inclusion of the constitutional amendment that "human rights are respected and safeguarded by the State" into the Constitution and the addition of the explicit provision on the protection of the legal private properties of the citizens, the Property Law enacted this year contains measures in detail for protecting property rights of the State and individuals, in particular for feasibly legal guaranty of citizen's private property by law.
Fourth, regulating and supervising the use of power according to law is an important link in the rule of law. According to the Chinese Constitution, all power of the State belongs to the people and the organs through which the people exercise their power are the National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at different levels. The people's congresses at different levels elect and supervise their local administrative, judicial and procuratorial bodies. China has promulgated for this purpose the Supervision Law to provide legal basis for the people's congresses at all levels to exercise supervision over the government, the court and the procuratorate. Apart from that, there is also supervision carried out by political parties, administrative and judicial bodies, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the public opinion. Thanks to its unremitting efforts over a long time, China has basically put in place a supervisory system on all public powers that is suitable to its specific conditions.
Fifth, the impartial administration of justice is an important guarantee for the rule of law. According to the Constitution, the people's court and the procuratorate at various levels exercise their judicial and procuratorial functions independently and are not subject to interference from any administrative bodies, social groups or individuals. Adhering to the idea of attaching equal importance to punishing crimes and protecting human rights, the judicial organs act in strict accordance with the law to punish criminals and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens. China has made great efforts over the years to reform its judicial system with a view to establishing an impartial, efficient and authoritative judicial system. As a result, China has improved its procedural system, methods of conducting trials and the selection and management of judicial personnel; the procuratorial organs have enhanced their judicial supervision over proceedings, enforcement and investigation; in particular, the Supreme People's Court is endowed with the exclusive right to review all death penalty decisions made by lower courts.
Meanwhile, we acknowledge clearly that developing and improving the rule of law is a long-term and arduous undertaking and the rule of law in China is still in the midst of continuous improvement and development through further efforts.
The Chinese delegation believes that strengthening international rule of law is in the common interests of the people of all countries as it will contribute to the maintenance of international justice and fairness, the promotion of peace and development, and the consolidation and development of friendly relations among nations. We wish to reiterate that in our efforts to strengthen international rule of law, we must maintain the authority of the United Nations Charter, and strictly comply with rules and international law, adhere to the principle of universal application of the international law, continue to improve international legislation.
To strengthen international rule of law, it is necessary to promote international legislation on the one hand, and enhance the application of the international law, including the compliance with and implementation of the international law on the other. We must also appropriately handle the following two issues. Firstly, it is necessary to appropriately draw the line between matters that fall within national jurisdiction and those belonging to international affairs. We must firmly stand by and maintain the international legal order with the United Nations Charter as its central element and deal with international affairs in accordance with the provisions of the Charter. Secondly, it is necessary to appropriately manage the relationship among maintaining common interests of the whole mankind, protecting national interests and safeguarding the interests of individuals. We must develop a fair and rational concept of interests which stands for peace, security, cooperation, development, harmony and mutual benefits in opposition to parochial and selfish national interests.
The Chinese delegation welcomes the preliminary report of the Secretariat on the inventory of the resources within the UN system devoted to the promotion of the rule of law and supports the Secretariat in establishing the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Unit serving as its secretariat. We hope that they will play a central role in coordinating the activities of the entire UN system relating to the rule of law by providing strategic planning for the resources devoted to the rule of law and improving efficiency with a view to helping set up an effective and durable foundation for the rule of law and promoting sustainable peace and development.
As regards the focus of our committee's deliberation on this item next year, the Chinese delegation would like to propose the following two issues as topics of our future discussion. Firstly, laws and practices of member States in implementing international treaties. By way of sharing national experience regarding legislation and practice in implementing international treaties, member States could enhance mutual understanding and promote effective compliance with and implementation of international treaties. Secondly, principles followed by the member States in their interpretation of international treaties and their practices in this regard. By sharing national practices and experiences in the interpretation and application of international treaties, member States could broaden their consensus on the interpretation of the international treaties and strengthen the capacity to apply international law.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.