China, Africa highlight growth's role in promotion of human rights

Wednesday 10th July, 2019
China and Cape Verde

GENEVA, July 10, (Xinhua/GNA) - China and Cape Verde, two countries significantly different in size, equally understand the importance of development to the realization of human rights.

Addressing a side event during the ongoing 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Maria de Jesus Veiga Miranda, permanent representative of Cape Verde to the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), presented the African island country as a case study to show development and human rights are inseparable and mutually reinforcing.

"Cape Verde is a good example of all human rights and development working together. This is for us a mutually enforceable agenda," she told Xinhua.

Her views were echoed by a number of speakers from China, Africa and some international organizations at the event, co-sponsored by UNOG's African Group and the Permanent Mission of China.

They championed holistic advancement of human rights through development, affirmed the role of South-South cooperation, and called on the international community to preserve necessary policy space for each nation.

DEVELOPMENT IS KEY

"What happened around the world, particularly in developing countries like China and African countries, speaks the truth that without development, there are no human rights to talk about," Chen Xu, head of Chinese mission to UNOG, said at the side event, entitled "The contribution of Development to the Enjoyment of All Human Rights".

Chen noted that while economic growth and new technology had been constantly pushing forward development, it remained globally "unbalanced, uncoordinated, and inadequate".

The international community needs to think hard about how to make progress together and bring in more people to share development to promote and protect human rights, said Chen.

Chen introduced China's accomplishments in poverty alleviation, building the world's largest system for education, social security and health care, and its committed actions in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China's success shows that every country could find a development path that best suits its national realities and the needs of its people, he said.

Speaking on China-Africa cooperation, Chen said the two sides had seen fruitful results in their cooperation, including 6,000 km of railways, 10,000 km of roads, 80 power plants and 200 schools, among others.

By better connecting the Belt and Road Initiative with the eight major initiatives of China-Africa cooperation and Africa's national development strategies, more resources can be turned into fuel for development to the benefit of 2.6 billion people in China and Africa and their enjoyment of human rights, he said.

Liu Xinsheng, a member of the Advisory Committee of the UNHRC, who chairs a group working on a new UN report on the contribution of development to all human rights, shared some findings.

"Development and human rights enjoyment are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Economic and social development is the foundation of the people's full enjoyment of all human rights, and human rights protection promotes economic and social development," said Liu.

Carlos M. Correa, executive director of South Centre, a think tank based in Geneva, stressed that development is not just about income, but has to be "people-centered," adding that poverty alleviation programs have to address the issue in a holistic manner.

RIGHTS TO CHOOSE DEVELOPMENT PATH

The UN established the right to development as an inalienable human right in 1986. "For the developing countries, particularly in Africa, the right to development is not yet a reality, particularly due to limited financial resources and human capacity," said Margarida Rosa Da Silva Izata, Angola's UNOG ambassador.

Speakers at the event chimed the need to take into account each country's unique conditions and that the developing countries have to make their voices heard when it comes to the topic of development and human rights.

Maria de Jesus, the Cape Verde ambassador, urged the international community to duly consider the special needs of Small Island Developing States and Middle Income Countries, like Cape Verde, which still faces huge challenges in the realization of all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

New methodologies and indicators are needed to allow those countries to further develop, she suggested.

"I think it is very important to recognize that the development path of different countries may vary. It is important for international regime to recognize that different models of development can be applied," said Correa.

The executive director of South Centre said it is also very important for developing countries to support each other in this regard.

CHINESE CONTRIBUTION

"Some advanced economies have used human rights to criticize certain types of development models, particularly development models where the state has a strong role to play in development opportunities," said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

China has enriched global human rights governance based on its own development experiences and put forward a vision increasingly embraced by the international society.

In February 2017, the Chinese concept "a community of shared future for mankind" was put into UN resolution for the first time. Just four months later, in June 2017, the UNHRC adopted a resolution proposed by China entitled "The Contribution of Development to the Enjoyment of All Human Rights", the first time that the UN rights body adopts a resolution on development issues.

Kozul-Wright said it is very important that China draws on its own experience in its interactions with other developing countries, particularly those in Africa. "It's much more of a reciprocal type of relationship than you often find between traditional donors and a recipient of aid," he said.

For Africa, which lacks financial resources, China is "filling a gap" with the Belt and Road Initiative, Kozul-Wright said.

"It provided both the finance and material basis on which countries can diversify into more sustainable and dynamic activities and livelihoods," he added.

GNA