(East-West Question) Swiss jurist Sheng Yalu: Why is the human rights view only around certain individual rights so narrow?

  China News Agency, Brussels, May 1, Question: Why is the concept of human rights only around certain individual rights so narrow?

  ——Interview with Swiss jurist Sheng Yalu

  China News Agency reporter De Yongjian

  From February 28 to April 1, 2022, the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council will be held in Geneva, Switzerland.

During the meeting, China made a joint speech on behalf of more than 50 countries, emphasizing the importance of development to the enjoyment of human rights, and calling on all countries to adhere to the people-centered approach and promote inclusive and inclusive development.

  On April 1, the meeting adopted a resolution jointly submitted by China, Pakistan, Egypt, South Africa and Bolivia, calling on the international community to help developing countries to better enjoy economic, social and cultural rights in the face of the new crown pneumonia epidemic (economic, social and cultural rights) , eliminate inequality.

66 countries participated in the joint proposal.

  Taking the rights to subsistence and development as the primary basic human rights, and paying equal attention to the coordinated development of civil rights, political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, is a distinctive feature of China's view of human rights.

At the venue of the UN Human Rights Council, "more than 50 countries" and "66 countries" reflect the resonance of the vast number of developing countries with China's view on human rights.

  Outside the venue, resonance is also echoing.

Harro von Senger, a Swiss jurist and sinologist who has been researching human rights issues for a long time, accepted a written interview with China News Agency "Dongxi Wen", detailing why the concept of human rights only revolves around certain individual rights is rather narrow, and China's "Belt and Road" The One Road initiative can be seen as a "global human rights project" and has practical implications for European countries such as Switzerland to deal with refugee issues.

The excerpts from the interview are as follows:

China News Service reporter: As a witness of China's reform and opening up, how do you view the tremendous progress in China's human rights cause over the past 40 years?

What impresses you?

Sheng Yalu:

China's progress in the field of human rights over the past 40 years is worthy of recognition.

Let me give an example, I was a student at Peking University from 1975 to 1977, and human rights were labelled a "bourgeois conspiracy" and denied recognition.

At that time, only Peking University and Jilin University retained law departments in China, and the number of teachers and students in the law department of Peking University ranked second to last in the school, only larger than the department of library science.

  One day, I asked why there were still lawyers in China in the 1950s, and then this profession was abolished. I was told that because lawyers were "superfluous", they "always wanted to assist criminals in criminal cases."

  After 1978, China resumed the lawyer system. In 1996, the "principle of presumption of innocence" was introduced into the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law. In 2004, Article 33 of the Chinese Constitution added a paragraph "the state respects and protects human rights". Now law schools are blooming all over China. , the situation has fundamentally changed.

The Law School of the Business School of Yunnan Normal University conducted the graduation design defense of the "Full True Moot Court" in the Yunnan Provincial High Court.

China News Agency issued a photo by Ren Dong

China News Agency reporter: As a jurist, sinologist and "China Hand", how do you understand China's concept of human rights?

Sheng Yalu:

More than 2,000 years ago, a Chinese philosopher once said, "If you can tell the truth, you will know the etiquette."

It is not surprising that China believes in Marxism and focuses on economic development and economic human rights.

In March 2001, China ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (reporter's note: it entered into force for China in June of the same year), which is a good illustration of the focus of China's view on human rights.

The 20th meeting of the Ninth National People's Congress Standing Committee voted to pass the "Draft Resolution of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights".

Photo by China News Agency reporter Mao Jianjun

China News Service reporter: You attach great importance to human rights such as the right to development and economic, social and cultural rights, and criticize the narrow view of human rights that only revolves around certain individual human rights. Global Human Rights Project”, which has practical significance for Switzerland and other European countries to deal with refugee issues. Can you elaborate on these views?

Sheng Yalu:

Regarding the concept of human rights that only revolves around the human rights of certain individuals, let me give an example. According to the "China Strategy" document released by the Swiss official in March 2021, China has "lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty" in the past few decades. make a significant contribution to poverty”, but the “China Strategy” document only regards these achievements as economic achievements, refraining from mentioning that these achievements are also human rights achievements, that is, economic human rights achievements.

In Maigaiti County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, "the hometown of Chinese Daolang peasant paintings", peasant painters increased family income and got rid of poverty through their own wisdom and creations.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Tomita

  Switzerland's "China Strategy" document also pointed out that China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative is a "global development model", which aims to accelerate the development of poor provinces in western China, build infrastructure such as transportation, energy, and communications in third countries, and strengthen Asia and the United States. Connectivity between Europe and Africa.

My understanding is that since it is to promote the economic development of China and other participating countries, isn't the Belt and Road Initiative also a "global human rights project" aimed at promoting economic human rights and the right to development?

The China Railway Express (Yuxinou) departs from Tuanjie Village Station in Chongqing International Logistics Hub Park.

Photo by China News Agency reporter He Penglei

  In Switzerland, many parties and politicians have emphasized the need to address the refugee problem, and since most refugees to Europe are "economic migrants", it makes sense to promote economic human rights in Africa and elsewhere.

If Switzerland's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative can address the issue of "economic migration," such participation is in line with the Swiss Federal Constitution, which states that "the Confederation shall work to alleviate suffering and poverty in the world and promote respect for human rights".

Note that the Swiss Federal Constitution first mentions that "the Confederation shall endeavour to alleviate suffering and poverty in the world" and then "promote respect for human rights".

It can be seen that "the Commonwealth shall work to alleviate the suffering and poverty of the world", that is, the realization of economic human rights is the primary concern.

China News Service: You once said that China and the West actually have consensus on many human rights issues, and the consensus far outweighs the differences. Why do you say that?

How should the communication and exchanges between China and Western human rights concepts be enhanced in the future?

Sheng Yalu:

Take Switzerland as an example. From 2006 to 2009, Switzerland and China were both members of the UN Human Rights Council.

During this period, the UN Human Rights Council passed 286 resolutions, of which 209 were unanimously adopted without a vote, showing that Switzerland and China have similar views on many human rights issues.

  The consensus between Switzerland and China on human rights issues is long-term.

In 2018, Switzerland and China are still members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and both countries agree on issues related to "terrorism and human rights", "promotion of human rights through sport and the Olympic ideal", "human rights and the environment", and "realization of economic, social and cultural rights in all countries". ” and other resolutions, and another resolution on the right to food was passed almost unanimously, with only one country voting against it, the United States.

This meant that when it came to the right to food, Switzerland and China stood together.

  At the just-concluded 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council, a considerable number of resolutions were unanimously passed without a vote.

  But neither the Swiss media nor Swiss officials say a word about human rights when discussing human rights. Switzerland and China have similar views on many human rights issues, as do other Western countries.

Inside the UN Human Rights Council, Western countries often vote for resolutions on economic human rights and the right to development, which can be described as an "open secret", but they do not tell their citizens. I do not know the specific movements of the UN Human Rights Council.

  As for how to enhance the communication and exchange of human rights concepts between China and the West, the answer is "very simple". It is recommended that after each session of the UN Human Rights Council closes, China publish a comprehensive meeting report in English, French, German and other languages, especially listing The name of the resolution and the voting situation of Western countries, let you see that the attitude of Western countries to many resolutions is actually the same as that of China.

Publishing such a report is something China should do, because Western countries are certainly reluctant to do it.

  Of course, some controversial resolutions may make Western countries, including Switzerland, make an appearance The West voted against, and Switzerland abstained.

If ordinary Americans and Swiss people learn that their country does not support "peace rights", they will be very surprised, and they are likely to turn their attention from China to their own countries, from "the villain asks others" to "the gentleman asks for help" already".

(Finish)

Interviewee Profile:

  Sheng Yalu, Swiss jurist and sinologist, tenured professor of Sinology at the University of Freiburg, Germany, Chinese legal advisor of the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law Published books such as "Ingenuity (Volume 2)", "Strategy", translated and published the German version of "Sun Tzu's Art of War" in 2011, "Swiss Way" in 2017, "36 Strategies for Legal Professionals" in 2020, and published in 2021 "The Law of Succession in the Civil Code of China"; proficient in Chinese law, the history of Chinese legal system, the history of Chinese legal thought, etc., has published a large number of articles on Chinese law, cultural exchanges between China and the West, etc. over the years.

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