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Different approaches to promote human rights should be respected,November 27, 2019 Adjust font size:

GENEVA, July 11, 2019 -- Around 72 years ago, to prepare the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN drafting committee sent a questionnaire about the human rights concept worldwide.


Defending the pluralist nature of human rights regardless of national borders or social forms, the declaration absorbed around 70 quite different replies that carried human rights notions from different civilizations in Asia, Europe, Middle East and America.


The incorporation of diverse concepts makes the text universal. Likewise, approaches to promote human rights are also diverse just as cultures and civilizations are diverse.


For China, its human rights development with Chinese characteristics in the past seven decades is based on a people-centered philosophy rooted in Confucianist "ren" (benevolence). Its human rights practices integrate the universal human rights concept with its national conditions, represented by such ideas as "development is a primary human right," "poverty reduction helps human rights promotion" and that "human rights needs cooperation," among others.


Such notions have helped China meet the basic living needs of its 1.3 billion-plus people, lift more than 700 million out of poverty, and establish a nationwide coverage of nine-year compulsory education and the world's largest health care and social security systems.


The past 70 years also witnessed China playing a more and more active role in UN human rights undertakings, by fulfilling international obligations, conducting extensive cooperation, or advancing global governance of human rights in a fair and rational manner.


China's efforts are gaining increasing recognition and popularity worldwide. For example, the idea of building a global community with a shared future for mankind is part of several resolutions of the UN Security Council. In 2017, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) introduced the concept of "promoting human rights through development" into the international human rights system.


Clearly, the Chinese path works and could offer some inspiration for other countries, but some people may be sensitive to the fact that it is different from the Western approach.


The Western approach has played an important role in recent history, but this doesn't naturally make it superior to other ones, let alone render some a moral high ground to intervene in others' affairs. In the case of China, some people in the West have showed intolerance of differences and indulged in China-bashing.


For example, in the name of protecting human rights, some Western-centrism politicians select cases to serve their own political ends, and what's even worse, they often weaponize the differences in approaches.


Some cooked a neo-interventionism manual in the name of "defending" human rights in other countries. They vowed to bring people there democracy and "better" human rights protection, but only turned countries like Iraq and Libya into chaos and made millions of refugees who enjoy no basic human rights at all.


While addressing the UN seminar "Contribution of Development to the Enjoyment of all Human Rights" Tuesday, Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, reminded the audience that "human rights are interdependent." Without economic, social and cultural rights, civil and political rights will not be stable and "the one without the other is incomplete."


Promoting human rights through development is a proven and widely recognized practice. It's time for practitioners of Western centralism to admit differences and pay due respect to others' approaches.

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