Jointly hosted by the Information Office of the State Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the China International Development Cooperation Agency, the forum attracted over 300 participants from nearly 100 countries and international organizations, including United Nations (UN) agencies.
In a congratulatory letter to the forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China stands for safeguarding human rights with security, advocates for promoting human rights with development, and stands for advancing human rights with cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect and equality.
Xi’s letter was read out at the forum’s opening ceremony by Li Shulei, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee. Li himself delivered a keynote speech.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the forum, Fu Hua, president of Xinhua News Agency, noted that human rights are an achievement of humanity and a symbol of progress. Respect for and protection of human rights is a basic principle of modern civilization, and the unwavering goal of the CPC.
HIGHLIGHTING INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
In his congratulatory letter, Xi said that China is ready to work with the rest of the world to act on the principles enshrined in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, push for greater fairness, justice, reason, and inclusiveness in global human rights governance, and promote the development of a human community with a shared future.
The advancement of global human rights causes can only be realized with the combined efforts of all members of the international society. Many participants have emphasized this point when sharing opinions at the forum.
"We should spare no effort to ensure that the people of the world are the main actor, promoter, and beneficiary of the cause of human rights," said Saint Cyr Mazangue, commissioner for international cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic. He added that major countries must take responsibility in this regard.
In terms of international human rights cooperation, many participants underlined the role of the UN and its principles regarding human rights.
Liu Xinsheng, a human rights expert with the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, said in his speech that abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter is of paramount importance in global human rights management.
He added that developing countries should be given more support to be involved in global governance and explore paths to promote democracy and the rule of law to advance the healthy development of global human rights governance.
ACKNOWLEDGING CHINA’S OUTLOOK
At the forum, many experts acknowledged China’s outlook on respecting and protecting human rights, noting it can provide new insight into the solution to global human rights challenges.
Robert Lawrence Kuhn, chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, noted in his speech that China’s outlook on human rights is manifested in the manner Chinese people participate in national governance, particularly the whole-process people’s democracy.
The CPC’s call is to expand the orderly political participation of the people, to strengthen the protection of human rights and the rule of law, and to ensure that the people enjoy extensive rights and freedoms in accordance with the law, said Kuhn, adding that enhancing whole-process people’s democracy enhances human rights.
In addition, participants also discussed China’s view on human rights reflected in its diplomacy, particularly in the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI).
In his speech, renowned Zambian scholar Fredrick Mutesa discussed the relationship between the GDI and the rights to development. He hailed the implementation of the GDI as another vivid example of China’s endeavor to promote the development of a human community with a shared future.
Speaking of the GSI, Crispin Kaheru, Commissioner of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, said it seeks to promote dialogue over confrontation and partnerships over alliances, but, more importantly, it seeks to encourage win-win situations over zero-sum game settlements. "China is not only proposing the way but also sharing its experiences," he added.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN DIGITAL AGE
At the forum, participants also paid attention to the new opportunities and challenges brought by rapidly developing digital technology to global human rights governance.
Shi Anbin, professor of the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, noted in the critical period of digital governance, countries in the Global South should continue the South-South cooperation, deepen international technological exchanges and cooperation, and stimulate internal innovations.
Besides posing challenges, digital technology also empowered countries to advance human rights in many aspects. Maria Francesca Staiano, a coordinator with the China Research Center of the School of Law and Social Sciences of Argentina’s La Plata National University, introduced in her speech how Argentina utilized digital technology to improve education for the people and alleviate poverty.
She expressed hope that China will engage in increasing cooperation with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in fields including digital technology to make new contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goal.