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Cause of human rights needs to be grounded in reality

(People's Daily Online)

19:05, June 25, 2013

The day of June 25 this year is the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action. The Declaration was conceived in the early 1990s, an era of change and transition. The shadow of the Cold War had passed, and a multi-polar world was beginning to seek the path of peace and development which has become the theme of our times.

The Declaration established a series of far-reaching principles in support of the cause of post-Cold War international human rights. It recognizes the universality of human rights, while emphasizing that the protection of human rights should take account of national and regional characteristics. It reiterates the interrelated nature and universality of a range of human rights, all of which require fair and equal attention. It reaffirms that the right to development is an inalienable human right and an integral element of fundamental human rights. It emphasizes that the promotion and protection of human rights must follow the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and the norms of international law.

These principles sustain the post-Cold War world and reflect the voice of the times in the field of human rights, and especially the aspirations of the developing countries - less confrontation and more cooperation. The Declaration has thus become an important milestone in the history of international human rights, as the “second” Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Reading the Declaration 20 years later, it is easy to see that the principles defined 20 years ago still have an important role to play in resolving existing problems of international human rights.

Commitment to universality and respect for particularity are two elements that cannot be separated. The cause of human rights needs to be grounded in reality. Only by applying the universality of human rights principles in accordance with basic national conditions can a practical human rights strategy take form. The international community should respect cultural diversity and appreciate that the path of human rights development and the form of human rights protection will vary in accordance with different countries’ national conditions. There is ample evidence that a model appropriate to one country cannot be imposed on another, and that any attempt to do this will lead only to resistance and rejection. Successful examples are likely to be few and far between.

All human rights merit equal consideration. For some people civil and political rights has become the only rights worthy of attention, and basic human rights like survival and development have been cast aside or even ignored. Civil and political rights require attention, but without the right of subsistence and the right to development, there can be no realization of universal human rights. Developed countries should provide financial and technical support to developing countries. Instead of indulging in polemic, they should take a more pragmatic approach to lifting developing countries out of poverty as quickly as possible, thereby laying a solid foundation for the further promotion and protection of human rights.
All countries must strictly abide by the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. Sovereignty and territorial integrity should be fully respected. Every country’s internal affairs should be decided by its government and its people. No country should interfere in the internal affairs of another country under the pretext of “human rights”. Human rights must not become politicized. Every country should seek common progress in human rights on the basis of equality and mutual respect and in a spirit of openness and tolerance, seeking common ground through dialogue and cooperation.

For 20 years China has adhered to the purposes of the Declaration - to vigorously protect and promote national human rights - and taken an active part in international human rights exchanges and cooperation. China advocates an objective approach to human rights issues, and will not indulge in selective judgments. China has invested great effort in promoting the healthy development of international human rights.

Every country in the world must earnestly adhere to the spirit of dialogue and cooperation implicit in the Declaration. More understanding and cooperation and less blame and confrontation will initiate and encourage mutual respect, mutual progress, and win-win cooperation in international human rights development.

Edited and translated by Ma Xi, People's Daily Online
Read the Chinese version: 人权事业需要“接地气”
Source: People's Daily

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