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Statement by Counsellor XIE Bohua on Human Rights Education (Agenda Item 105 b) at GA 59th Session

2004-12-10 00:00

Mr. President,

It is of special significance for the General Assembly to discuss human rights education on the World Human Rights Day today.

The Chinese delegation noted the evaluation report on the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education submitted by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/CN.4/2004/93) and the Draft Plan of Action for the First Phase (2005-2007) of the Proposed World Program for Human Rights Education (A/59/525) and would like to make the following observations on the question of human rights education.

Firstly, we highly value the achievements of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) and its Plan of Action. Through its unremitting efforts to promote human rights education, the Decade has enhanced worldwide respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, encouraged understanding, tolerance and friendship among different racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic groups and nations, and facilitated people-centered sustainable development and social justice. Over the past ten years, the international community has become increasingly aware of the important role of human rights education as one of the fundamental ways to achieve human rights. Comprehensive, effective and sustainable strategies on human rights education have been formulated and implemented at the national level in light of each country's specific conditions.

Secondly, we support the proclamation and implementation by the United Nations of the proposed World Program for Human Rights Education. As the High Commissioner rightly pointed out in her evaluation report, there are both achievements and shortcomings in the Decade. Building on the experiences of the Decade, the United Nations should further promote the development of human rights education throughout the world. In accordance with the relevant resolution of the Commission on Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNESCO have jointly prepared the Draft Plan of Action for the First Phase (2005-2007) of the Proposed World Program for Human Rights Education. We appreciate the efforts made by the OHCHR and UNESCO and will study in detail the draft Plan of Action.

Thirdly, we believe that the following principles should guide us in the promotion of human rights education. First of all, human rights education needs to take full account of the historical traditions and social context of the country concerned and to encourage and fully develop positive cultural traditions, respect diversity and fight discrimination. Second, human rights education should cover a wide spectrum of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development with a view to seeking a balanced development of all human rights. Third, national governments bear the primary responsibility for human rights education while the international community has the obligation to provide necessary assistance and guidance. Fourth, human rights education is a long-term, multi-dimensional endeavor, thus continuous and unremitting efforts are needed to widely disseminate the concept of human rights before it takes hold in society.

Human rights education assumes special significance for the Chinese government as China is the most populous country in the world. In the context of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education, the Chinese government has, during the past ten years, conducted a wide array of educational activities in the field of human rights education in the light of China's specific conditions.

At the national level, the 5-year legal literacy plan has been developed and put in place in an effort to raise the awareness of the Chinese citizens of the constitution, democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

In China's school systems, international human rights instruments have been taken into account in designing and teaching human rights education curricula focusing on the rights-based approach to the rule of law and the dissemination of the basic concept of human rights.

At the international level, in addition to bilateral cooperation, human rights education has been incorporated in the framework of technical cooperation between China and OHCHR under which a series of programs were undertaken.

Today, as the Chinese citizens are increasingly aware of their rights, the concept of human rights is taking root in China. The Chinese government is ready to join the United Nations and all other countries to build upon the achievements of the UN Decade for Human Rights Education and further human rights education at both the national and international levels with a view to promoting a culture of human rights.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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