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Remarks by Ambassador Dai Bing at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Strengthening Accountability and Justice for Serious Violations of International Law

2022-06-03 00:15

Mr. President, 

China welcomes the briefings by President of the International Court of Justice Judge Donoghue, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Madam Michelle Bachelet, and Professor Akande of Oxford University. 

Peace and justice are what humanity as a whole strives for and the primary responsibility of the UN Security Council. The process of maintaining peace and achieving justice is an inter-sectional inter-disciplinary enterprise. Accountability is an important means to justice. The role it plays in restoring and maintaining peace defies oversimplification as it hinges on specific circumstances and conditions. The issue of accountability and its implications for the maintenance of peace and security should be examined with a multi-dimensional, objective, and judicious approach. In this vein, I would like to underscore the following.

First, peace and justice are mutually reinforcing and complementary. Without justice, peace is unsustainable. Without peace, there is no justice to speak of. We are informed by history that in the absence of a systemic solution that addresses fundamental and long-term issues such as peace and development, the thought of justice achieved through accountability in isolation would be fragile and unsustainable. The pursuit of justice is as much about bringing perpetrators to justice and ending impunity, as it is about facilitating reconciliation and achieving lasting peace. Any accountability exercise should be forward-looking, taking into account the nexus between peace and justice, and making sure the very act of accountability does not lead to heightened or prolonged resentment or antagonism between the parties concerned, leaving the general public with the bitter consequences. 

Second, accountability should aim to maintain the integrity and unity of international law. In pursuing accountability for violations of international law, the first order of business is an objective and impartial judgment with respect to “violations of international law”, and that requires equal and uniform application of international law as opposed to selective application thereof. Asserting the will of a minority of countries as a universally applicable rule for other countries to follow or applying different rules to different countries on the same issue, such behavior does nothing to truly uphold the authority of international law, nor will it lead to an objective and fair judgment. Pursuing accountability by such rules has little chance of bringing about genuine and lasting justice. 

Third, accountability should respect the judicial sovereignty of the states concerned. States have the primary responsibility for punishing serious crimes, ending impunity, and achieving justice. Adherence to the principle of state ownership is not only an important manifestation of the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs, but also a crucial assurance for the smooth advancement of accountability and the achievement of desired results. The international community should continue to work with the countries concerned and actively support them in strengthening capacity building and exercising effective jurisdiction over serious international crimes. The international judicial institutions should act in strict accordance with their mandates, abide by such important principles as state consent and complimentary jurisdiction, and maintain their judicial independence, objectivity, and impartiality. 

Fourth, the pursuit of accountability must not be tainted with political manipulation and presumption of guilt. Accountability must be consistently guided by rule of law, both as philosophy and logic. It must be based on facts and governed by law. Accountability must under no circumstances become a political tool for suppressing those who hold different views and positions, exerting pressure on them, or for staging regime change in the service of the geopolitical interests of a handful of countries. China has always maintained that the exact circumstances and specific causes of violations of international humanitarian law in conflict situations must be established, and that any accusations made should be based on facts. Until the full picture is clear, all parties should exercise restraint, and avoid making unfounded accusations or interfering in internal affairs in the name of justice. Given the crucial importance of this Council’s responsibilities, every decision it makes must be able to withstand the test of history. 

Mr. President, 

In the aftermath of the Cold War, the Security Council has led or authorized the creation of a number of international accountability mechanisms, which have played a special role in achieving justice and promoting reconciliation. On the other hand, we should acknowledge that not all accountability mechanisms have achieved their intended objectives within the prescribed time frame, and some of them have taken up significant resources of the countries concerned and all the United Nations for a long time with very little progress. While we remain seized of the issue of accountability for violations of international law, it is also necessary to review the existing international accountability mechanisms, reflect upon them, and draw lessons from them. 

Mr. President, 

I wish to point out that the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom in their statements made unfounded accusations against China, which China firmly rejects. As the saying goes, to hide a lie, 1,000 lies are needed. Allegations of “genocide” or “forced labor” in Xinjiang are lies of the century pure and simple. The United States and the United Kingdom are afraid that their cooked-up lies about so-called genocide and forced labor in Xinjiang are seen through by the international community, so they come up with more lies to discredit China, hoping to continue misleading the international community. However, no amount of lies spread by the United States and the United Kingdom can deny the factual reality of Xinjiang that it enjoys stability and prosperity, and its people are living and working in peace and happiness. Whoever has visited Xinjiang, China will not buy the lies peddled by the United States and the United Kingdom. What they are doing only exposes even further the nature of their tactic, that is to politicize and instrumentalize human rights, and exposes their political agenda of containing China by hyping up the Xinjiang issue. We have to ask this question, when it comes to countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, and the individuals concerned, who spread rumors, tell lies, confuse and mislead, and attempt to smear and discredit other countries, shouldn't accountability apply to them as well? 

I thank you, Mr. President.

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