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Weaponizing human rights debate decried

By CHEN WEIHUA in Rome, Italy | | Updated: 2023-09-21 20:36
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Experts laud China's role in alleviating poverty, call for respecting differences

Neil Davidson, a Labour Party member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom since 2006, criticized countries for weaponizing human rights debates at a time of tension in international relations.

He said the purpose of a discussion on human rights should be to learn from each other and to understand each other, not to promote divisions among people.

"There is no benefit from confrontation … Mutual learning enables societies to develop and flourish," he told the 2023 China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights held on Wednesday in Rome and participated by over 140 scholars, experts and officials from 15 countries.

"Discussions on human rights with the objective of mutual understanding between countries can only serve to improve relations," he told the seminar via video link, adding that some countries should not assume superiority on the issue.

Oliviero Diliberto, a former minister of justice in Italy and dean of the Faculty of Law at the Sapienza University of Rome, praised the close cooperation between his school and Chinese universities.

"Over the years, we have built a bridge in academic and culture fields, a bridge linking civilizations and not building a wall," he said.

Diliberto, who has taught at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, Hubei province, and is an expert on China's civil code, said that Italy and China have very close relations because they both recognize and respect the differences between civilizations and cultures and they both seek common ground while reserving differences and seek a common goal for cooperation.

The seminar, titled "Modernization and the Diversity of Human Rights Among Civilizations", was co-hosted by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and the Faculty of Law at the Sapienza University of Rome.

Baimachilin, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress, China's top legislature, and president of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, emphasized the right to subsistence and development as fundamental human rights, citing China's achievements in poverty alleviation, building the world's largest education system, social security system and healthcare system.

Hegemony slammed

He called for respect for different civilizations and criticized the Cold War mentality, hegemony and the weaponization of human rights, as well as unilateral sanctions for harming human rights in the world.

"Rome was not built in one day, and human rights cause won't be accomplished overnight but require persistent efforts," he said.

Nako Stefanov, head of the Bulgarian National Council for Peace and director of the Bulgarian Strategic Management Institute, criticized the fact that "any country which dares to oppose the US and the so-called monopolar world will be accused of violating democracy and human rights and punished".

He advocated a human rights system that is based on social justice, social equality and social solidarity, and praised the China-led Belt and Road Initiative for helping create jobs and lift people out of poverty in many developing nations.

Fabio Marcelli, former director of the Institute for International Legal Studies at the National Research Council of Italy, praised China for its achievements in uprooting absolute poverty as well as in public investment, citing China's economic development, including electric vehicles.

He criticized the West for weaponizing human rights issues including on the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. "It was totally a manipulation," Marcelli said.

"In Xinjiang, we saw how China helps poor regions develop. And many poor places in the world will be out of the woods if they promote development like Xinjiang."

"Promoting the healthy development of global human rights requires unity, not division. It requires cooperation, not confrontation," said Jia Guide, the Chinese ambassador to Italy.

He said China and the European Union held their 38th session of human rights dialogue in Brussels in February.

Besides keynote speeches, the Wednesday seminar included three parallel panel discussions on topics such as exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, the development of modern human rights philosophy and the evolution of human rights in the digital age.

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