CECC Statement for United Nations' Human Rights Day 2007

Congressional-Executive Commission on China | www.cecc.gov

CECC Statement for United Nations' Human Rights Day 2007:
China Continues To Fall Short of Its Commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 9, 2007

(Washington DC)—The United Nations' Human Rights Day, observed each year on December 10, commemorates the anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. December 10, 2007, also marks the start of a one-year campaign, with the theme of "dignity and justice for all of us," to mark the Universal Declaration's 60th anniversary in 2008. The Universal Declaration enshrines a core set of rights and freedoms that individuals everywhere enjoy. China voted to adopt the Universal Declaration in 1948, and the current Chinese government has continued to commit itself to upholding human rights through international agreements and its own domestic law. In practice, however, the Chinese government does not guarantee these rights.

In the past year, in spite of progress in some areas, Chinese officials implemented policies that undermined the promotion of human rights. Controls over free expression stifled not only political dissent but also obstructed the free flow of information in the aftermath of crises involving forced labor and food safety. China failed to vigorously enforce wage and workplace safety policies for workers, and continued to deny them the right to form independent unions to engage in true collective bargaining. New regulations on religion strengthened government interference in the internal affairs of religious communities. The government bolstered controls over civil society organizations; maintained policies that restrict residents' freedom to choose their permanent place of residence; and expelled North Korean refugees from China's borders. It continued to impose population planning policies that exert government control over women's reproductive lives, punish non-compliance, and engender additional abuses at the local level by implementing officials. Citizens who challenged government actions faced harassment, detention, and other abuses.

The 2008 Olympic Games are a temporary spotlight on China. But China's commitment to full compliance with internationally recognized human rights standards must be meaningful and enduring, for only then will it be understood as a true commitment to the principles of dignity and justice for all enshrined in the Universal Declaration. The Congressional-Executive Commission on China is committed by mandate to be a permanent spotlight, and calls on China's government to comply with its international and domestic obligations to guarantee the human rights of all its citizens, and of all who enter China's borders.

CECC Contact: 202-226-3777