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Development initiative promotes, protects human rights

Source: China Daily | 2022-04-05
Development initiative promotes, protects human rights

By Zhang Yunfei

Global affairs today suffer from "four deficits"-peace, development, trust and governance-which constitute the crux of the global challenges, with the development deficit being the most pressing one.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the development deficit, as it has neutralized the achievements of global poverty reduction over the past 10 years, resulting in about 140 million people falling back into poverty and about 800 million suffering from hunger.

The pandemic has caused the UN Human Development Index to fall for the first time in more than 30 years, and pushed some developing countries back into poverty and instability. In developed countries, vulnerable groups are facing even more difficulties, with increasing demand for redressing social injustice. In fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult for countries to sustain the achievements of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The serious setback to development is the largest obstacle to protecting and promoting human rights. Indeed, countries are struggling to ensure that people continue to enjoy the rights to life and health, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. In other words, the global human rights cause is facing grave challenges.

While the tide of the new industrial revolution is gaining momentum, new forms and models of businesses based on the digital economy and adhering to green development have emerged during the pandemic, creating new opportunities for developing countries to bring their economies back on track by boosting development.

As such, the international community, more than ever, needs to make concerted efforts to put global development back on its priority agenda.

It is against this backdrop that President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative while addressing the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, through video link, in September 2021, and urged the international community to pay more attention to the situation of developing countries, and respond to the new challenges brought about by COVID-19, so as to mobilize resources, take targeted action and develop a synergy for accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Development and human rights are two key pillars of the UN's work, each with its own process. For example, the 2030 Agenda entails the concept of the right to development. And the Global Development Initiative takes the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as its starting point to help solve the most pressing problems development faces globally, especially in developing countries.

As President Xi said, "we should safeguard and improve people's livelihoods and protect and promote human rights through development, and make sure that development is for the people and by the people, and that its fruits are shared among the people". Accordingly, the Global Development Initiative promotes and protects human rights by "prioritizing development", facilitating "people-centered development" and leaving "no one behind".

The initiative is aimed at helping countries meet all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with special focus on promoting the rights to life and development worldwide, thus making important contributions to the international human rights cause.

The initiative adheres to people-centered development, because China believes living a happy life is the most important of human rights. But only when a country chooses the development path that best suits its reality can it realize sustainable development and deliver more benefits to its people in a way that no one is left behind.

The Global Development Initiative stresses the importance of promoting cooperation in eight priority areas-poverty alleviation, food security, vaccines and pandemic control, development financing, climate action and green development, industrialization, the digital economy, and connectivity-opening up a path for expeditiously realizing the 2030 Agenda.

The initiative lays special emphasis on policy and institutional connectivity, international norms and standards, free and fair global trade, stability and interconnectivity of the global industrial chains with the aim of creating a favorable international environment for development. And it is aimed at strengthening global development partnerships and promoting extensive consultations and joint contributions, and providing shared benefits.

Moreover, it can be aligned with other development initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the African Union Agenda 2063, in a bid to pool together the strengths of multilateral cooperation mechanisms such as the United Nations, G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and BRICS to achieve common global development.

The Global Development Initiative is based on true multilateralism, and upholds the spirit of cooperation, partnership and openness in the field of human rights. Therefore, countries should engage in exchanges and cooperation on human rights based on equality and mutual respect, steer the global human rights governance mechanism toward greater fairness and inclusiveness, and abstain from resorting to double standard in, or politicizing, human rights.

Development and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and China has promoted and protected human rights by achieving development at a rapid pace, setting an example for the world.

That's why the Global Development Initiative has been endorsed and supported by the UN and many other international organizations, as well as some 100 countries. Let us hope the international community helps implement the initiative to advance the global development and human rights causes.

The author is a board member of the United Nations Association of China.