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    Human rights work gets UN stamp of approval

    By Sun Meng | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-16 09:05
    Women dressed in colorful outfits perform at the 27th Silk Road Turpan Grape Festival in Turpan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Sept 3, 2018. [Photo provided to Chinadaily.com.cn]

    Approving a report submitted by China during the third round of the Universal Periodic Review, the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday praised China for the progress it has made on human rights over the past five years and the positive role it has played in advancing the human rights cause.

    While cooperating with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, China actively fulfilled its international human rights obligations, continuously strengthened the protection of human rights at home, exhibited an open and confident approach to human rights and made unique contributions to the development of the UN human rights mechanism.

    By advocating a diverse approach to human rights, China has helped strengthen the cooperation foundation between the UN human rights mechanism and the UN members. Still, due to the differences in their political, economic and social systems, different countries view human rights differently.

    Inclusive approach to human rights

    Thanks to the Cold War and the dominance of the Western concept of human rights in the past, some countries used the UN human rights mechanism as a tool to accuse other countries of violating human rights, and thus seriously affected the UN's reputation. Given the trust and cooperation crisis that emerged because of the politicization of human rights issues and some countries' lack of tolerance for diversity, China has consistently upheld the "universal and special" principle of human rights, remained committed to advancing an open and inclusive approach to human rights, advocated mutual respect and mutual learning, and urged all countries to cooperate under the UN human rights mechanism.

    Development rights inclusion in UN framework a landmark

    In particular, China's efforts to get development rights included in the UN framework is its biggest contribution to the global human rights cause, as it has not only changed the Western definition of human rights, but also made the development of individuals and countries a top human rights issue. The inclusion has not only made the UN take into consideration developing countries' concrete demands while promoting human rights development worldwide, but also promoted mutual exchanges and interactions among different societies.

    China's emphasis on the integrity of human rights, such as its proposal to make economic, social and cultural rights important elements of human rights, has brought different countries closer in terms of their approach to human rights and boosted their cooperation.

    To remove the obstacles to global cooperation due to the UN laying emphasis on civic and political rights while belittling economic, social and cultural rights in the early years of its founding, China made consistent efforts to ensure equal importance was attached to the two categories of human rights. That made the UN adopt a holistic approach to human rights, which in turn reduced the political disputes among countries over human rights, and made the UN review the factors politicizing human rights and subsequently implement reforms.

    China has consistently fulfilled its international human rights obligations, and made efforts to make the UN human rights mechanism impartial and more effective. It has not only signed a series of international human rights conventions, but also cooperated with the Universal Periodic Review, participated in special procedures, and improved its domestic human rights record.

    China's membership fees to the UN and contribution to conventional peacekeeping missions are the second-highest among UN members. It has also considerably increased its contribution to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wining extensive praise from the international community.

    Many believe China will advance human rights cause

    In recent years, to help reform the UN human rights mechanism, China has offered Chinese wisdom and constructive proposals on how to enhance the mechanism's function and efficiency. On this issue, China adheres to the principle of "equality and cooperation", advocates extensive and democratic participation, and wants the UN human rights mechanism's approach to shift from "blame and confrontation" to "dialogue and communication" so that the global body can better deal with the human rights challenges in a fast-changing world. That China has been winning a high number of votes to be elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council shows many countries believe it will help advance the human rights cause across the world.

    China insists that safeguarding the UN's multilateral mechanism is the most effective way of promoting global human rights governance, especially because the anti-globalization policies adopted by some countries and the fragmented global regimes pose a challenge to the evolution of the world order and the development of the UN.

    As a staunch supporter of multilateralism and the UN human rights cause, China has actively participated in the building and implementation of the global human rights order under the UN framework and strengthened the UN's role in global human rights governance.

    In the face of common human rights challenges such as food security, shortage of resources, climate change, environmental pollution, epidemics and cross-border crimes, China has advanced the world human rights cause by proposing to build a community with a shared future for mankind, because peace promotes development, development promotes human rights and the new type of international relations based on win-win cooperation facilitates the settlement of human rights issues.

    The author is an associate professor at the Institute for Human Rights, China University of Political Science and Law. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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