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Uphold the Authority of the UN Charter and Promote Win-Win Cooperation

2015/04/16

Keynote Address by H.E. LIU Zhenmin
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
At the International Colloquium on the Charter of the United Nations
And Post-War International Order

Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, 14 April 2015

Distinguished Guests,
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I would like to extend my warm welcome to you all for your participation in this colloquium. It is a great honor for my Ministry to co-sponsor this Colloquium. And it is also a great honor for me to share with you some of thoughts on the issue.

The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of World War II and the founding of the United Nations. Seventy years ago, after years of fighting in the tough battles and making huge sacrifice to crush the evil forces of fascism and militarism, the righteous people of the world won the great victory of World War II.

The UN was born, thus opening a new chapter in the history of mankind. Since then, the UN Charter, which embodies mankind's aspirations for a better world, has endured changing international circumstances for the past 70 years, and its purposes and principles continue to command the high esteem and compliance of all countries.

Guided by the norms set forth in the UN Charter, the world has maintained overall peace for 70 years. People in Asia, Africa and Latin America won independence and liberation; countries around the world achieved economic and social development; peaceful settlement of disputes has been generally observed; and the rule of law in international relations have gained greater public support. The UN Charter deserves much credit for advancing such human progress. In my humble view, the UN Charter has played an irreplaceable role in international relations.

First, the Charter established a multilateral international order with the UN at its core. It is for the first time in history that the international law against war was codified into a universally accepted instrument, i.e. the UN Charter. It demonstrated the firm resolve of the international community to eliminate war and preserve peace, identified the common objectives of safeguarding sovereignty, peace and human rights and seeking development, and put in place a post-war international order with sovereign states, the UN and its specialized agencies, and regional organizations as the main participants. It also provided solid legal ground for countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to gradually enter the international arena and participate in international affairs on an equal footing.

Second, the Charter set up a collective security mechanism with the Security Council at its core. The Charter sets forth the rights, obligations and responsibilities of UN member states and its main organs. In particular, the Charter entrusts to the Security Council the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, giving the Council the mandate to call upon countries concerned to settle disputes peacefully, investigate into relevant situations and take enforcement measures against acts of aggression or those that threaten or undermine international peace and security. This formed a collective security mechanism with the Security Council at its core, which replaced military alliances and the law of the jungle, put the arbitrary use of force under institutional check. Though the performance of the Council has not been perfect, it has played an irreplaceable role in maintaining overall peace and effectively managing regional conflicts over the past 70 years since World War II.

Third, the Charter offered a basic code of conduct for post-war international relations. The basic principles enshrined in the Charter such as sovereign equality, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful settlement of dispute, no use of force and fulfilling international obligations in good faith have become the code of conduct for countries and the yardstick for the international community to judge whether the actions taken by a country are legal and just. These principles have also become the norms governing exchanges and cooperation between countries and are widely recognized and followed. The basic principles of international law established by the Charter constitute the foundation of international law and enjoy precedence in application in the overall system of international law and norms.

Fourth, the Charter reaffirmed the common values and aspirations of mankind in contemporary times. From the very beginning, the Charter made it clear in the Preamble that it was written in the name of "we the peoples of the United Nations". It established the principles of sovereign equality of nations large and small, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples, called on countries to respect, protect and promote the human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms for all and encapsulated the spirit of equality, freedom, fairness and justice. Inspired by the notions of collective and individual human rights established in the Charter, people under colonial rule gained independence one after another since the end of World War II and countries around the world have made strides in advancing human rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China firmly upholds the post-war international order and international rule of law. We cherish peace and the rule of law, always uphold and speak up for justice on major regional and international issues, and resolutely safeguard the basic principles of international law with the UN Charter at its core and the basic norms governing international relations. So far, China has signed more than 23,000 bilateral treaties. In the 22 years following the founding of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949, it was deprived of its lawful seat at the UN. Nevertheless, the Chinese government attached great importance to fulfilling its international obligations. To better honor international humanitarian obligations, China made the resolute decision to join international treaties such as the four Geneva Conventions. After the adoption of Resolution 2758 at the 26th General Assembly in 1971, which restored the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN and all the related agencies or organizations, China has acceded to over 400 multilateral treaties and joined all the specialized agencies of the UN and most of the inter-governmental organizations in the world. Following the principle of "pacta sunt servanda", China has honored its treaty obligations to the letter and shouldered its international responsibilities. It has fully integrated itself into the contemporary international order.

China actively contributes to the development of post-war international order and international rule of law. In the 1950s, China put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence together with India and Myanmar, and championed the "Ten Principles of Bandung" with Asian and African countries, both of which gave expression to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. In the 1970s after the restoration of its lawful seat in the UN, China introduced the theory of "three worlds" and stood together with people from around the world to reject hegemony. In the 1990s, China called for the establishment of a fair and equitable new international political and economic order. Entering the 21st century, China advocated the building of a "harmonious world". Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the idea of a community of common destiny for mankind as a whole and a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. All these constitute a continuation and development of the Charter spirit and give new vision to international rule of law.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year is of special historic significance, as it marks the 70th anniversary of the UN Charter. We should therefore cherish what has been achieved in peace, security and development. We should also be mindful of the challenges we face, and think about what kind of international order we need and want to build.

In today's world, the trend towards a multi-polar world and economic globalization is gaining momentum. As countries become much inter-connected and inter-dependent, they have seen their interests intertwined more closely than ever before and have increasingly become a community of shared destiny. Peace, development and win-win cooperation are the prevailing trend of the times.

At the same time, this world still faces multiple challenges and difficulties. Hegemonism, power politics and different forms of "neo-interventionism" are still rampant. Global issues such as terrorism, cyber security, food security and climate change keep surfacing. Wealth gap and digital divide caused by development imbalance is widening, and the momentum for global economic growth remains weak. There are still some people who choose to ignore the lessons of World War II or try to gloss over crimes and acts of aggression. Violation of the basic norms of the UN Charter happens from time to time. These problems have long been disturbing or even threatening peace, stability and development of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the international architecture experiences profound adjustment, and both opportunities and challenges exist, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter remain as relevant as ever. The framework of international order, security mechanisms, norms and values established in the UN Charter are still effective. The principles enshrined in the UN Charter still form the basis of modern international law and international relations. Law must be stable, but not stay unimproved. An old Chinese saying reads, "A society makes no progress if it sticks to outdated convention, and laws are feasible only when adapt to changing circumstances." To build a community of shared destiny and a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, the international community must uphold, and more importantly, advance the system of international law with the UN Charter at its core.

First, we must uphold sovereign equality as the foundation. Countries must reject cold-war mentality and bloc politics, oppose all forms of hegemonism and power politics, respect and uphold the rights of all peoples to independently choose their social systems and development paths. Countries, regardless of their size or wealth, are all equals. They are entitled to their rights on an independent and equal basis, and shoulder obligations and responsibilities on the basis of voluntarism and mutual respect. Countries must explicitly say "no" to the illegal use of force, to "neo-interventionism" and to any attempt or practice that undermines the sovereignty of another country.

Second, we must work together to ensure common security. Security of a nation and its people is the primary benchmark of law. Countries have shared interests and security needs. All countries have the right to participate in security affairs on an equal footing, and shoulder the responsibility to maintain security in various regions and in the world. We must reject the old mentality of seeking one's own security at the expense of others', respect and safeguard the security of each and every country. We must address both traditional and non-traditional security issues, promote security at the national and regional level through dialogue, and ensure lasting security through development. We must pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and jointly explore a new path toward security that is shared and upheld by all and leads to win-win outcomes.

Third, we must follow the path of democratic rule of law. Greater democracy and rule-of-law in international relations represents the aspiration of all peoples and the trend of history. The destiny of the world must be taken into the hands of peoples of all countries, and world affairs can only be handled through consultation by governments and peoples around the world. Countries should respect the diversity of civilizations and systems, and advocate mutual respect, inclusiveness and mutual learning. The principle of democracy must be followed in the making of decisions and laws for our world. And international law-making, enforcement and jurisdiction must have broader participation, greater transparency and credibility. The rules of international law must be fairer and more reasonable, and the rule-of-law must be the dominant feature of the international order. Behaviors of all countries must be measured by law, rights exercised in keeping with the law, and obligations honored in good faith, so that the international law will be applied equally and consistently to all.

Fourth, we must advocate win-win cooperation as the central goal. Countries can achieve win-win outcome only when they align their own interests with those of other countries and jointly tackle global challenges. Only win-win cooperation leads to true benefits. We need to actively discuss how to properly define the rights and obligations of countries in international cooperation in the field of international law, including the rights of developing countries to achieve development and the obligations of developed countries to support and remove barriers to development. The development of international law should help promote North-South cooperation, enhance the development capacity of developing countries and encourage developed countries to assume more responsibilities. This will make international mechanisms more effective and provide legal guarantee for win-win cooperation and common development.

Fifth, we must strengthen the mechanisms for law enforcement. What has been difficult is not to enact laws, but to truly enforce them. The lifeline of law lies with enforcement. So does the sanctity of law. Effective enforcement and universal compliance of international law relies not only on the self-discipline of countries and their faith in law, but also on improved mechanisms for law enforcement and oversight. Institutional arrangements of multilateral cooperation, such as the UN and various regional organizations, could be better used to urge, assist and monitor member states to fulfill their obligations, exercise their rights appropriately, properly handle international disputes, and earnestly implement the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. This will help ensure the enforcement and observance of international law and therefore enhance its effectiveness.

China is committed to promoting democracy and the rule of law in international relations, and to building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. China has established partnerships in different forms with 75 countries and five regional organizations, and is firmly committed to closer cooperation for common security and common interests. China, as the world's second biggest economy, is keenly aware of its responsibilities, and is making its best efforts for the development and prosperity of the world. China is promoting the "Belt and Road" initiative, namely, the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China will take this initiative as an opportunity to open up further to the outside, and to bring new opportunities and space for the development of our neighbor in Asia and beyond.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As an eminent scholar once said, a country would fall into a huge gang if it has no justice. We hope that this Colloquium will help encourage all countries to uphold international fairness and justice, and all peoples to stay committed to the pursuit of peace and draw lessons from history. Let us work together to safeguard overall framework of the post-War international order and the sanctity of the UN Charter, build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, and bring peace, security, development and happiness to all humanity.

I thank you for your attention!

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