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Opinion
Efforts Toward Human Rights Development
By Lan Xinzhen | NO.52 DECEMBER 28, 2017

Human rights have long been a center of debate in the international community. The argument on human rights is dominated by Western developed countries, which usually blame developing countries in this regard.

But such accusations are not fair to many developing countries. In particular, Western countries also have various human rights problems. Mostly, they just impose double standards when dealing with the problem.

There are many aspects of human rights. Undoubtedly, the right to subsistence and the right to development are the primary basic human rights. Developing countries have been making efforts to improve people’s lives and safeguard human rights since they achieved national liberation and independence. During the process, every developing country has also tried different approaches in a quest for the way that fits its national conditions.

With several centuries of development, Western countries have taken leading positions in terms of national strength, economy, society, culture and living standards. Today, many developing countries still strive for their independence and development. So it is unfair to measure the human rights situations in the developing world according to Western standards.

Against this backdrop, the first "South-South Human Rights Forum," held in Beijing on December 7 and 8, is of significance to all developing countries. In the Beijing Declaration, issued at the forum, all participants, including officials, scholars and representatives from over 70 countries and international organizations, agreed that the right to subsistence and the right to development are the primary basic human rights. They called on the international community to respect developing countries' will in human rights development.

The Beijing Declaration acknowledges China’s achievements in the development of its human rights cause based on its national conditions.

Poverty reduction is the most telling evidence of China’s progress in human rights. Over the past 30 years or more since the launch of reform and opening up, more than 700 million Chinese people have been raised from poverty. The number of rural poor had fallen to 55.75 million by 2015, with the incidence of poverty dropping to 5.7 percent, according to the white paper China’s Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights, released by the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China in October 2016.

Meanwhile, China has established the world’s largest public service networks of education and social security, covering all its citizens, as well as developed the democratic election system at community and village level. In particular, China has strengthened rule of law to safeguard all aspects of human rights, including subsistence, education, employment, speech and political rights. China's State Council Information Office on December 15, 2017 issued a white paper titled "New Progress in the Legal Protection of Human Rights in China," reflecting China’s efforts in law-based protection of human rights over the past five years.

Over the past five years, undertaking of human rights protection in China has made much headway, and China is contributing to the diversity of human civilization and providing Chinese wisdom and solutions to promote social progress, the latest white paper said.

The first South-South Human Rights Forum not only expands South-South cooperation, but also further promotes the human rights cause in developing countries. “Developing countries should pay special attention to safeguarding people's right to subsistence and right to development, especially to achieve a decent standard of living, adequate food, clothing, and clean drinking water, and the rights to housing, security, work, education, health and social security," the declaration said.

The international community should strengthen joint efforts rather than fuel arguments against each other on human rights development. With the theme "Building a Community of Shared Future for Humanity: New Opportunities for South-South Human Rights Development," the forum provided a new platform for developing countries to cooperate on human rights. As the Beijing Declaration stressed, “South-South cooperation is an important way to promote development and human rights progress in developing countries.”

Human rights worldwide could not be achieved without the joint efforts of developing countries, which account for more than 80 percent of the world's population. Developing countries have made significant contributions to human rights development in the past. They put up strong resistance in fighting fascism, militarism, colonialism, hegemony and various types of extremism. Developing countries also participated in signing a series of fundamental international documents on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Declaration on the Right to Development.

Faced with the common challenges of population increase, climate change and environmental pollution, developing countries must work together and respect each other. While developed countries should abandon their prejudice against developing countries and take actions to promote human rights development for the whole world.

Copyedited by Chris Surtees

Comments to lanxinzhen@bjreview.com

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