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Statement by H.E. Ambassador SHA Zukang, Head of the Chinese Delegation, on Item 3, at the 58th Session of the Commission on Human Rights (19/03/2002)

Mr. Chairman:

First of all, please allow me to congratulate you on your election as Chairman of this session and other members of the Bureau on their election. The Chinese Delegation is ready to work with you to make this session a success.

This session is held after the September 11th event and entrusted with the important task of implementing the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism. The new circumstances and tasks call for our new reflections. H.E. Ambassador of Indonesia, on behalf of the “Like-Minded Group”, and H.E. Ambassador of Japan, on behalf of the Asian Group, have both made specific proposals on the organization of the work of the current session. The Chinese Delegation, while fully endorsing their statements, would like to present the following views and suggestions:

1.  International cooperation instead of political confrontation

The biggest problem that troubles the Commission is the practice of pursuing political confrontation in the name of human rights, and this practice is growing rampant. The Commission should have been a forum for exchanging views and strengthening cooperation among States. Unfortunately some countries and groups of countries, out of their domestic political needs, tend to make wanton accusations against other countries, and are keen on tabling country-specific draft resolutions, targeting mainly developing countries. Nevertheless, confrontation can in no way help solve any human rights problem, rather, it can only poison the atmosphere of the Commission and undermine its creditability among the developing countries.

This session is the first Commission session after the events of September 11th.  Those events have led to rare international solidarity and cooperation on the issue of counter-terrorism.  Such solidarity and cooperation is equally needed in other fields including human rights. We note with appreciation that in the resumed session of the Third Committee of the General Assembly, various parties have shown a spirit of consensus on the issue of combatting racism. The Working Group Meeting on the Right to Development just concluded enjoyed a more positive atmosphere than last year. We hope that this momentum of cooperation will find its way into the present Session. Only through cooperation can we reduce our differences and effectively advance the cause of promoting and protecting human rights.

2. More attention to the needs of developing countries and more emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development

We note with regret that the importance of the economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development is not duly reflected in the composition of the agenda, allocation of time, number of resolutions and the set-up of special mechanisms. With globalization gathering pace, most of the developing countries are encountered with the major challenge of how to realize economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. Neglecting economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development is, in essence, the denial of developing countries’ legitimate demand on the issue of human rights.  The Commission should correct its imbalance on the two categories of human rights which is giving more emphasis on civil and political rights now.

The approach to the promotion of civil and political rights cannot be simply copied when it comes to promoting the economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. The majority of developing countries have a strong political will for realizing economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development, but they face some practical difficulties due to arms conflicts, poverty and the unjust international economic, financial and trade order. The international community should help them remove obstacles and overcome difficulties; putting up some so-called monitoring mechanisms will not do away with their problems.

3.  Stricter observance of rules and better efficiency of work

Parallel meetings and night meetings in the Session have been proliferating over the years, and they reached a historical high last year. This has made it more difficult for delegations, in particular those from small countries, to fully participate in the work of the Commission, and has made it impossible for the secretariat to provide various documents in time.  It is thus imperative that the efficiency of work be improved. We hope that efforts will be made this year by the Commission to observe the schedule of meetings in a strict manner, working groups and rapporteurs will confine their reports to the stipulated length and that unnecessary meetings, especially night meetings can be reduced.

4.  Regulating the participation by NGOs and creating a better working environment

In recent years more and more NGOs have acquired a consultative status with ECOSOC. Their participation has enabled us to hear more different voices. However, some NGOs, in violation of the provisions of the Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31, have abused their status, negated the purpose and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and disrupted the work of delegates.  Some individuals, acting as representative of several NGOs at the same time, have spoken many times under the same agenda item, repeating same questions and taking up a lot of time. By contrast, Representatives of member governments and in particular observer delegations are faced with more restrictions in term of time allocated for their statements. We hope that the Commission will, in accordance with its rules of procedures, strictly regulate the participation by and activities of NGOs so that the Session will proceed in an orderly way.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

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