Human rights is a beautiful thing, which could arise the yearning of people for freedom and equality, as well as encourage people to fight for rights and dignity. Human rights has never been the patent of only a few countries, instead, it was the common ideal and pursuit of the humanity.
In order to carry out exchange on human rights with all countries, promote the glorious history, splendid culture and time-honored thoughts of human rights of China to the rest of the world, demonstrate the development achievement of the cause of human rights of contemporary China, in August 1994, under the support of the Chinese Government, the China Foundation for Human Rights Development (the Foundation for short) was founded. Over the 22 years since it was founded, by extensively participating in human rights international exchange, responding to the concerns of the international community on the situation of human rights of China, the Foundation presented to the world the image of China as a country of reform and opening up, a country ruled by law and a country with a brilliant situation in terms of human rights.
Dialogue on human rights¡ªa platform for exchange as well as a battlefield for confrontation
¡°Dialogue with the western world on human rights¡ªChina is becoming increasingly confident¡±, this was the title of an article published on Global Times, an influential newspaper focused on international politics. ¡°With the aid of these interactive, effective as well as rich in hotly dispute platforms, China strove to get the rest of the world know more about her arguments, policies and status quo of human rights¡±, said this article after listing a series of achievements on international human rights exchanges and dialogues carried out by the Foundation. Over the years, by carrying out dialogues and seminars on human rights, proceeding effective communications with western countries on the issue of human rights, the Foundation clarified lots of misunderstandings on China, and effectively stroke back the attack and slander of some countries which wore the mask of ¡°human rights teachers¡±.
The Sino-German Dialogue on Human Rights, jointly organized by the Foundation, the Chinese Association for International Understanding and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, was a keynote project of the Foundation in conducting international publicity in terms of human rights. The Dialogue came into being in 1999 under the support of the then German Chancellor Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schroder and the then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji. In November 1999, the 1st Sino-German Dialogue on Human Rights was held in Beijing. In 2000, the Dialogue was listed into the framework of Agreement on Legal Exchange and Cooperation between China and Germany, thus becoming a long-term collaborative project between the governments of China and Germany. Up to this year, the Dialogue has been successfully held for 12 times. Consistently adhering to the principles of ¡°seeking common ground while reserving differences¡± and ¡°enhancing trust and clarifying doubts¡±, both sides strove to seek truth from facts, address conflicts directly, and communicate openly and frankly, promoting the deepening of mutual trust and understanding.
The Sino-American Dialogue on the Rule of Law and Human Rights was another keynote international publicity project on human rights carried out by the Foundation. This platform of dialogue was jointly established by the Foundation and National Committee on United States-China Relations in 2009. In each dialogue, both China and the United States always sent their best experts and judges and they would carry out dialogue on hot-spot human rights issues, such as administrative transparency, the role and status of lawyers and judges, the responsibility of lawyers and their right protection, the situation of human rights in the United States, the extensive phone-hacking of the United States to other countries. In each Dialogue, there was not only equitable exchange, but also fierce debate or even heated confrontation. Via six sessions of Dialogues, this dialogue mechanism has become an important platform for non-governmental organizations of both sides to probe into hot issues, exchange and interact with each other, and bridge differences. Just as Stephen A. Orlins, President of National Committee on United States-China Relations said, ¡°No fists, no friends. It is always better to talk than not to
The Beijing Forum on Human Rights, sponsored by the Federation, was also an important platform of international exchange on human rights for China. Since the launching of the Forum in 2008, eight sessions of the forum have been successfully held. On September 16, 2015, at the opening ceremony of the Forum themed ¡°Peace and Development: the Victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the Advancement of Human Rights¡±, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the Forum, enthusiastically praising that the Forum will play an important role in promoting the in-depth introspection of all sides on the protection of human rights and right of development. President Xi Jinping also emphasized to strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations, promote exchange and cooperation in terms of human rights among different countries, thus enhancing the development of the cause of human rights of all countries.
Non-governmental exchange¡ªbridges of friendship as well as the extension of everyday job
Since 1998, in order to defend historical facts and the dignity of human rights, the Foundation took many different ways to support and take part in the claims of victims of World War¢ò against Japan. With years of efforts taken by the Chinese side, in 2009, the Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd of Japan admitted the facts of plundering Chinese laborers, expressed their remorse and apologies, and agreed to pay a compensation of 128 million Japanese yen (about 9.46 million yuan RMB). In 2010, in cooperation with the Japanese lawyers group which has been offering the voluntary defending service for the claims of Chinese laborers against Japan, the Foundation established the Nishimatsu-Chikumagawa Peace Fund Management Committee, undertaking the management of this compensation. Over the years, the Foundation has overcome various difficulties such as lack of history record of the laborers, their scattered distribution, most of them having passed away, testament identification and complicated right of inheritance, and managed to advance this job orderly. Till now, among the 183 laborers involved in the compensation agreement, 129 and their testaments were identified and 107 have received the compensation (with a total amount of 5.03 million yuan RMB). The job of the Foundation achieved high appraisals from the international community.
In 2015, by taking the initiative in topic setting, the Foundation effectively improved the power and effect of struggle on public opinion against Japan. On August 15 to 18, in cooperation with Japanese non-governmental organizations like the Japanese lawyers group and Japan-China Friendship Association, the Foundation organized a thematic picture exhibition in Tokyo, reflecting the crimes of germ warfare and chemical warfare committed by the Japanese army during World War II. By detailed and systematically disclosing the atrocities of the Japanese army in developing, manufacturing, using biochemical weapons and conducting human body experiment, and the deeds of peace campaigners of both China and Japan in rescuing the victims, the Foundation effectively stroke back the attempts of the Japanese right-wing forces in denying and beautifying the war of aggression.
Over the years, jointly with the Japanese lawyers group and people from the circles of doctors and lawyers of Japan, taking advantage of the venue of the Museum of War Crime Evidence By Japanese Army Unite 731, the Foundation organized joint diagnosis and treatment activities for the victims of chemical weapons abandoned by the Japanese army and offered financial assistance to these victims. The Foundation also set up the Relief Fund for Victims of Germ Warfare of Japanese Aggressors, offered assistance to war victims in cities like Jinhua, Quzhou and Lishui of Zhejiang Province, protected and collected historical data of germ warfare committed by Japanese invaders, and carried out a series of righteous actions aimed at recording the truth, maintaining historical facts and defending human rights.
Diversified forms¡ªcomprehensive interaction and beneficial exploration
By integrating ¡°inviting in¡± with ¡°going out¡±, the Foundation organized and supported a series of international exchange activities, responded to the concerns of the international community on the situation of human rights in China, and demonstrated to the rest of the world the development achievements and good image of the cause of human rights in China.
The Foundation strove to construct and develop a relationship of comprehensive exchange and cooperation with all sides. In recent years, delegations sent by the Foundation had visited a number of countries such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain and Russia, took in-depth exchange with local renowned foundations, media, government departments and human rights organizations, exerting a good influence in the international community. In 2014, a delegation of the Foundation, headed by President Huang Mengfu, landed on the vast, fertile and fascinating Africa continent and visited South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. It was the first time for the Foundation to send a delegation to Africa. The delegation conducted extensive and in-depth talks with governments, parliaments, human rights and judicial departments of three countries, and took advantage of various occasions to introduce the situation of human rights of China, elaborate our values and ideas, reinforce our traditional friendship, and promote exchange and cooperation. So far, the Foundation has carried out exchange activities with non-governmental organizations from dozens of countries and regions, with the influence of the Foundation increasingly expanding.
The Foundation has successfully organized the Third Global Foundations Summit Forum. The Global Foundations Leaders Forum, started in 2009, was the only international forum for foundations launched and sponsored by China, offering a platform for foundations of all countries to seek consensus and strengthen cooperation. In September 2015, the Third Global Foundations (Nanjing) Leaders Forum, jointly organized by the Foundation and Jiangsu Provincial Government Information Office, was successfully staged. Responsible persons of renowned foundations from more than 30 countries and regions such as China, the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as over 120 domestic representatives engaging in the job of various foundations attended the forum and discussed on a series of topics such as the role and functions of foundations in jointly coping with disasters and emergencies, exchange and cooperation between foundations in the process of the construction of ¡°the Belt and Road¡±, exchange and cooperation between foundations in promoting the development of the cause of human rights, thus improving the discourse power and influence of China in the field of international foundations.
The Foundation explored actively new forms in guiding public opinion of human rights. In order to bring into full play the functions and roles of war museums, exchange good practice and experience in carrying out education on human rights and peace, the Foundation has successfully held two sessions of International Forum on Human Rights and Museology. On the Second International Forum on Human Rights and Museology, taking the theme of ¡°opposing war, maintaining peace and defending human rights¡±, representatives of war museums from 16 countries and regions probed into the lessons of history of World War II. and formed powerful public opinion momentum both at home and abroad. The initiative of founding the association of global museums of anti-Fascist war proposed by China has already come true.
In reviewing and summarizing the experience of carrying out the job of international publicity and international exchange on human rights, the responsible persons of the Foundation drew the following points.
The enhancing of national strength of China and the lasting progress in the cause of human rights created a favorable environment for non-governmental organizations to carry out international exchange. In recent years, the sustained development of Chinese economy, a more democratic political system, the all-round social progress, the further improvement of people¡¯s life, the great importance attached to human rights and effective measures taken by the Chinese Government in protecting human rights, the remarkable achievements made by the cause of human rights of China, all contributed to the laying of a solid foundation for the Foundation to carry out human rights international publicity more proactively.
As a powerful complement of governmental diplomacy, international exchange on human rights carried out by non-governmental organizations boasts a brilliant future. Public diplomacy serves as the foundation for enhancing the friendship among people of different countries, and for enhancing the development of interstate relations. In recent years, China and the rest of the world were increasingly closely linked, all types of non-governmental organizations emerged as an important force pushing the social and economic development of China, and the frequency of international cooperation and exchange carried out by non-governmental organizations has also surged. The non-governmental organizations of China were perfectly capable of exploiting their advantages of flexible in form and thorough in exchange, so as to strive to build more platforms and effectively improve their ability of carrying out international exchange, thus playing a greater role in the international arena.
Non-governmental organizations should further renew their ideas, make greater efforts and work more actively in carrying out international publicity on human rights. In today¡¯s international stage, human rights was a topic bound to be talked about by the western countries. Simply responding to the issues raised by the western countries usually put China in a defensive position and the effect was usually inadequate. Only by strengthening the awareness of ¡°positive guidance¡± and ¡°take the initiative¡±, seizing the initiative in terms of topic setting, agenda setting and publicity, and publicizing the ideas and status quo of human rights of China more distinctively, openly and actively, can we realize the objectives of strengthening communication, dispelling apprehensions, and expanding cooperation. In this aspect, non-governmental organizations could foresee great prospects.
(Ci Aimin, Council Member of the Chinese Association for International Understanding, Former Vice-President and Secretary-General of China Foundation for Human Rights Development)