China Announces Formation of "Working Group" on Ratification of the ICCPR

December 20, 2004

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue recently noted that the Chinese government has formed a special "working group" to research and promote ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. China signed the treaty in 1998 but has yet to ratify it. Zhang made her comments on the treaty working group in the context of discussing progress made during the 18th China-European Union human rights dialogue and stressed that the Chinese government has already approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Social, Cultural, and Economic Rights.

Given its context and timing, the announcement may be linked to China’s effort to convince the European Union to lift the EU embargo on arms sales to China. In recent weeks, China has also announced reforms of the re-education through labor system and death penalty review process and released several political prisoners. In a communiqué issued in early December, the EU announced that it did not plan to lift the arms embargo soon but expressed its political will to continue to work towards that goal.

Earlier this year, Chinese constitutional scholars explained that a provision on the protection of human rights added to the PRC Constitution in March would provide a necessary theoretical and constitutional foundation for ratification of the ICCPR.