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  Home > FOCAC Archives > The 2nd Ministerial Conference > Follow-up Actions
Speech by Ambassador Nene on the occasion of the China-Africa Seminar on Human Rights
2004/10/29

On behalf of the African delegation present, I take this opportunity to thank the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for inviting all of us to this important annual Forum. The People's Republic of China plays a significant role in the developing world, as well as in the UN system particularly in the United Nations Security Council. China also plays a leading role in the shaping of the development agenda of the South by playing a constructive and active role in the NAM and the G77.

The Charter of the UN recognizes the promotion and protection of human rights as one of the major challenges of the international community. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two core human rights instruments impose obligations on States to promote, protect and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone without discrimination.

The international human rights law strives for the protection of the rights of all individuals. It is incumbent on the United Nations Commission of Human Rights to ensure that all the rights elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two human rights covenants receive equal and fair treatment.

However, for historical reasons, the evolution of the International Human Rights Law was marred by the tensions in the politics of the bi-polar system i.e. the West as against the East. This division manifested itself in the unequal attention given to the human rights covenants. The tension between the North and the South on human rights issues have always been on the issue of civil and political rights versus the economic, social and cultural rights. These divisions continue to characterize the relationships of the developed and developing countries within the Commission on Human Rights and generally in the United Nations system.

As South Africa, and I also believe that my colleagues from the Continent share the same view, we value our relationship with China and the importance of this forum. We also pay tribute to the government of China for the great strides it has made on the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights. China is undoubtedly a leading country in the developing world and its successes in the area of economic growth as created space for the Chinese people to enjoy their economic rights, for example, in the areas of housing, education, health, employment creation and massive infrastructural development. Whilst the Chinese people have been enjoying these rights for sometime, its was only in the last ten years of the advent of democracy in South Africa that the majority of our people began to taste the benefits of economic, social and cultural rights.

South Africa strongly believes that there is scope and opportunity for strong partnerships among the countries of the South to share practical experiences and to cultivate a culture of respect for human rights commitment and upholding of democratic principles including cultural diversity. In this vein, it is our strong belief that the Commission on Human Rights should be a forum where promotion and protection of human rights should be pursued without fear of favour, treating both the weak and the strong countries equally. Adhering to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and not mingling it with ulterior political motives, is the only guaranteed approach that will hasten the observance of human rights globally.

The rich cultural heritage and common challenges for development bring China and Africa closer together and we should explore these opportunities to strengthen co-operation amongst our governments and peoples. With a very strong practical relationship in our South-South co-operation, we should be able to confront our international challenges with unity of purpose. The success and the mutual benefits of our South-South co-operation must invariably lead to solidarity and constructive approach among the countries of the South bilaterally and at the international level.

We encourage more of this mutually beneficial consultations and hope that China will continue to convene this forum annually. We look forward to the planned tour of your exciting country, which is rich in cultural heritage and history. We hope that this tour will provide us with an opportunity to gain better insight into the Chinese way of life.

I thank you.

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