China, the United Nations, and Human Rights

China, the United Nations, and Human Rights: The Limits of Compliance

Ann Kent
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    China, the United Nations, and Human Rights
    Book Description:

    Selected by Choice magazine as a Outstanding Academic Book for 2000 Nelson Mandela once said, "Human rights have become the focal point of international relations." This has certainly become true in American relations with the People's Republic of China. Ann Kent's book documents China's compliance with the norms and rules of international treaties, and serves as a case study of the effectiveness of the international human rights regime, that network of international consensual agreements concerning acceptable treatment of individuals at the hands of nation-states. Since the early 1980s, and particularly since 1989, by means of vigorous monitoring and the strict maintenance of standards, United Nations human rights organizations have encouraged China to move away from its insistence on the principle of noninterference, to take part in resolutions critical of human rights conditions in other nations, and to accept the applicability to itself of human rights norms and UN procedures. Even though China has continued to suppress political dissidents at home, and appears at times resolutely defiant of outside pressure to reform, Ann Kent argues that it has gradually begun to implement some international human rights standards.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0093-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    In the turbulence of the post-Cold War era, scholarly interest has begun to focus on three issues in the fields of international law, international relations, and human rights. The first is the general question of states’ compliance with international treaty obligations. The second is the specific matter of China’s compliance with these obligations, its gradual socialization through interaction with treaty bodies, and its preparedness to moderate its urge to independence in response to the contemporary pressures for political and economic interdependence. The third is the question of the effectiveness of the United Nations human rights system in monitoring the implementation...

  5. Chapter 1 The UN Human Rights Regime and China’s Participation Before 1989
    (pp. 18-48)

    The emergence of the human rights regime as a focus of international politics in the late 1980s and the early 1990s originally arose from pressures on and in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to move away from the socialist system. It was further encouraged by the trend to democratization and liberalization in parts of the Third World and the apparent dawn of a new world order in which international law and international institutions would assume increasing importance. The new prominence of human rights norms was also a product of globalization, which brought the individual into contact with international...

  6. Chapter 2 China, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights
    (pp. 49-83)

    China’s crackdown on its Democracy Movement in June 1989 had a profound impact on its relations with the international community and with the international human rights regime. In emphasizing state sovereignty at the expense of popular sovereignty, it marked the end of its immunity from international criticism. Widespread international sanctions were initiated, with states cooperating in multilateral forums to provide a collective response. Foremost among the multilateral bodies were the European Community, the Group of Seven, and the World Bank, under pressure from the U.S.¹ Under the umbrella of this response, individual states also applied sanctions. These sanctions, designed more...

  7. Chapter 3 China and Torture: Treaty Bodies and Special Rapporteurs
    (pp. 84-116)

    The practice of torture is an issue that goes to the heart of the rule of law and rights of due process. Its eradication is a major priority of the United Nations, in the light of its understanding that “in all the instruments relating to human rights, the prohibition of torture derives from the group of rights from which no derogation is possible.”¹ The right not to be tortured is fundamental to the innate dignity of the human being, the recognition of which constitutes the moral foundation of human rights. Thus, it forms part of the cluster of rights conceived...

  8. Chapter 4 China and the UN Specialized Agencies: The International Labor Organization
    (pp. 117-145)

    The International Labor Organization (ILO) is a UN specialized agency that has played a crucial role in monitoring China’s human rights. As a functionally specific international organization concerned with labor matters, its focus correlates with the formal raison d’être of the system of government of the People’s Republic of China. As a self-proclaimed workers’ state, at least in theory, China is inevitably affected by the opinions of such a body. Its importance is underlined by the fact that since china has signed, but not yet ratified, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the ILO is one...

  9. Chapter 5 Theory, Policy, and Diplomacy Before Vienna
    (pp. 146-169)

    The previous chapters have documented the Chinese response to specific aspects of the UN human rights regime. They have detailed its interaction with the UN Commission on Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Subcommission, and have followed the process of China’s compliance with its reporting responsibilities to the UN Committee Against Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Torture, to other treaty bodies and special rapporteurs and to the ILO Governing Body Committee on Freedom of Association. Each of these cases saw different degrees of Chinese compliance and noncompliance with international monitoring. In much the same way, China responded to...

  10. Chapter 6 The UN World Human Rights Conference at Vienna
    (pp. 170-193)

    The UN World Human Rights Conference at Vienna in June 1993 presented the world in its own image, a rich, diverse, contradictory, and kaleidoscopic picture at once inspirational and profoundly repugnant.¹ It caught the realities of the evolving post-Cold War era, which had not even begun to make sense of the epidemic of ethnic conflict and destruction of the basic rights to life and subsistence that were its inheritance. Against this it counterposed the heady, ideal vision of the theme of “All Human Rights for All.” It revealed the gap between that vision, itself espoused by states as well as...

  11. Chapter 7 After Vienna: China’s Implementation of Human Rights
    (pp. 194-231)

    China’s response to the UN human rights regime has been tested in its ongoing interaction with UN bodies and conferences. However, to measure compliance in the sense of an internalization of human rights norms, uniting words and action, a longer-term perspective that utilizes a broader brush encompassing both the international and domestic dimensions of implementation is necessary. Insofar as Articles 55 and 56 of the UN Charter require all members of the United Nations to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion,” China is...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 232-250)

    The goals of this book have been to assess the nature of China’s attitude toward interdependence in the global community and to evaluate the depth of its international socialization and learning. To this end, the most sensitive of barometers and the most stringent of tests—the international human rights regime—has been employed. Using five main case studies of China’s interaction with UN bodies that monitor human rights, three principal questions have been posed: what is the nature of its interaction; what does the process of its participation tell us in general about China’s international learning experience and its attitude...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 251-314)
  14. Index
    (pp. 315-329)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 330-330)