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Carry Forward the Bandung Spirit and Advance the International Rule of Law in Today's World

2015/04/13

Address by H.E. Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui

At the Special Event on Commemorating

The 60th Anniversary of the Bandung Conference of

The 54th Annual Session of

The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization

Beijing, 13 April 2015

Distinguished Ministers,
Delegates,
Friends,

Sixty years ago, delegates from 29 Asian and African countries gathered in Bandung, Indonesia for a conference to decide their own future and destiny. They proclaimed to the world the emergence of developing countries on the world stage as a new, important force, thus opening a new chapter in the history of Asia and Africa.

The Conference gave birth to the Bandung Spirit, calling for solidarity, friendship and cooperation and recognizing the common mission of Asian and African peoples to fight imperialism and colonialism, seek common ground while shelving differences, and pursue common development. The Bandung Spirit has since served as an important intellectual and political foundation for building a new international political and economic order that is just and equitable, and provided brilliant guidance for developing countries to seek strength through unity and work together for world peace as well as national independence and prosperity.

The Conference released a Final Communiqué, and the Ten Principles of Bandung on handling state-to-state relations was put forward in the well-known Declaration on the Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation contained in the Communiqué. The Ten Principles underscored sovereignty, human rights, equality and cooperation, and embodied the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The Ten Principles and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence became a widely recognized set of norms for international relations and international law. The Ten Principles represented a just call for independence, dignity and equality from the oppressed nations, serving as a guiding principle for countries with the same or different social systems to build and grow friendly relations, pointing out an effective way for those seeking peaceful solutions to outstanding historical issues between countries and disputes in the world, and making historic contribution to the solidarity and cooperation among Asian and African countries.

Sixty years on, the world once again finds itself at a historical juncture amid profound and complicated changes. In today's world, multipolarity and globalization are gathering momentum. Democracy and the rule of law are garnering growing support. And countries are becoming increasingly interdependent with a stronger sense of community of common destiny. In today's Asia and Africa, developing countries are rising as a group. The two continents are leading the world in terms of both development potential and dynamism. This is attributable to the united efforts of Asian and African countries. We have every reason to be proud of ourselves!

On the other hand, the international security situation still faces a lot of uncertainties. Traditional and non-traditional security threats are intertwined. The digital divide has compounded the development gap. The North-South gap is yet to be narrowed. And development issues are becoming more acute. Asian and African countries are all faced with the daunting tasks of upholding national security and social stability, accelerating economic and social development, and improving people's living standards. We all have the important mission of reforming the global governance architecture, improving global governance rules, and raising our voice and influence in the world.

At this historical moment, we, member states of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, are gathered here to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference. The purpose of this event is to carry forward the Bandung Spirit, implement the Ten Principles of Bandung, advance the international rule of law, uphold the institutional rights of developing countries, address risks and challenges confronting the developing countries, promote peace and development, pursue equity and justice, and build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.

First, we need to uphold peace and stability through the international rule of law. International law must provide countries with the basic survival and security guarantee. Since the end of WWII, the world has maintained overall peace for 70 years. The collective security regime with the UN at the core and norms of international law have played an important role. However, unlawful use of force in international relations still exists; and there are still attempts of citing one's own values or judgment criteria as an excuse for interference in other countries' internal affairs, or even attempts of stirring up domestic turmoil and division and overthrowing legitimate governments. The international community must continue to firmly uphold the authority of the UN Charter, respect countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity, stand fast for the basic principles of international law such as national independence, sovereign equality, non-interference in internal affairs and peaceful settlement of disputes, oppose war, aggression and threat and use of force, and uphold the safeguard mechanisms established by the UN Charter to prevent war and preserve peace.

Second, we need to promote win-win cooperation through the international rule of law. In a globalized world, countries are more interdependent than ever before with their interests increasingly intertwined. It is vital to forge a sense of community and seek benefits to all through cooperation. Therefore, the international rule of law should move beyond ensuring peaceful coexistence toward promoting cooperation. Steps should be taken to build a sound system of rights and obligations featuring equality, mutual benefit and cooperation. Currently, the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda are at a crucial stage. The international community as a whole need to pay more attention to the right to development and the issue of poverty alleviation, improve the international legal system and ensure that developing countries benefit from globalization and achieve common development. It should also, through formulation and application of rules of international law, effectively tackle non-traditional challenges such as terrorism, climate change, natural disasters, pandemics, and transnational crimes and work more actively to build sound institutional arrangements for new frontiers of human development like cyberspace, seabed, polar regions and outer space to address common challenges of mankind through concerted efforts.

Third, we need to uphold inclusiveness and mutual learning through the international rule of law. As we often say in China, a single flower does not make spring, while one hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden. The fundamental tenet of the international rule of law is mutual respect. It is vital to reflect different voices and common interests of the international community in a comprehensive and balanced manner and ensure the right of people in different countries to independently choose their political and social systems and development paths that suit their own history, culture and tradition. It is necessary to advocate inclusiveness and mutual learning between different civilizations and legal systems. While ensuring universal application of basic principles of international law, the concerns and uniqueness of different regions and groups must be considered and reflected.

Fourth, we need to realize equity and justice through the international rule of law. In history, international law reflected, more often than not, the will of major powers, rather than the aspirations of developing countries. Today, developing countries as a whole have heightened their sense of seeking strength through unity, made bigger contribution to world peace and development, and gained more weight and influence in international affairs. As such, they should have a more important position and more responsibilities in the new international order. The international rule of law needs to be responsive to the changing times to further address defects in the international political and economic order, promote democracy in international relations and safeguard the institutional rights of developing countries. It is vital to stress the importance of the procedural transparency and due process of international mechanisms, increase the representation and participation of developing countries in the international legislation process, enhance developing countries' capacity of setting and advancing major global agenda, and ensure equal opportunities for developing countries in expression, participation and decision-making as developed countries.

Ministers,
Delegates,
Friends,

China, as a member of the developing world, cherishes its brotherly relations with fellow developing countries and regards friendship and cooperation with them as the bedrock of its foreign policy. Whatever changes may take place in the international landscape, China will stand firmly with other developing countries.

China will continue to follow the independent foreign policy of peace and the path of peaceful development, implement the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Ten Principles of Bandung and endeavor to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.

Ministers,
Delegates,
Friends,

In a few days' time, the Asian-African Summit to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference will be held in Indonesia. And in September, we will gather in New York to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN. To achieve greater unity, cooperation, development and revitalization in Asia and Africa is a noble mission bestowed upon us by our times. Let us work together to carry forward the Bandung Spirit and work tirelessly for common dignity and wellbeing.

Thank you.

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