In anticipation of the second session of the 12th National People’s Congress, due to convene on March 5, 2014, Hangzhou lawyer Wang Cheng launches an online signature campaign for an appeal, called “A Civil Rights Proposal,” to the current NPC Standing Committee to immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The appeal argues that if China refuses to ratify the ICCPR—which represents minimum human rights standards that are universally recognized—it risks losing credibility in the eyes of the world’s governments and is not qualified to call itself a “people’s government.” Additionally, the appeal states, the immediate ratification of the ICCPR, absorption of modern political civilization in keeping with the trend of the world, human rights protection, and building of a modern, constitutional, democratic country have become a consensus on core values among the entire nation. The Proposal warns that ratification of ICCPR is the only way to resolve China’s social conflict and there cannot be any further delay.
“A Civil Rights Proposal”: A “Ten Million Citizens’ Signature Campaign” to Demand the Immediate Ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Dear all citizens of the People’s Republic of China,
As the second session of the 12th National People’s Congress is about to commence (March 5, 2014), we the citizens, the ultimate holder of the People’s Republic of China’s sovereignty and the true master of the country, hereby collectively and strongly urge and demand the current National People’s Congress Standing Committee to immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The main reasons are as follows:
1. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights represents universally recognized minimum human rights standards. Those who do not sign the Covenant and apply these standards will have absolutely no standing among the world’s nations.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a covenant adopted by the United Nations on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Covenant was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 2200A (XXI) and open for signature, ratification, and accession on December 16, 1966. The Covenant went into effect on March 23, 1976, in accordance with the stipulation of Article 49.
The core rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, commonly known as “First Generation Human Rights,” include the right to life; right not to be tortured; right to a fair trial; right to liberty and security of the person; right to liberty of movement; right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; right to freedom of assembly; right to freedom of procession; right to freedom of association; and right to vote and be elected.
The core rights in the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, commonly known as “Second Generation Human Rights,” include the right to work, right to education, right to enjoyment of an adequate standard of living, women’s and children’s rights, and rights of minority groups. “Second Generation Human Rights” further supplement, enrich, and complete, but do not negate, “First Generation Human Rights.”
Compared to “Second Generation Human Rights,” with respect to protecting human dignity and spiritual values, “First Generation Human Rights” are clearly more fundamental and more important. Therefore, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is recognized by the international community as the “most authoritative expression of universally accepted, minimum human rights standards in contemporary times.”
A nation that cannot enjoy universally recognized minimum human rights standards—what standing does it still have among the world’s nations? A nation with a glorious 5,000-year history of civilization absolutely cannot accept this outrageous shame.
2. It has been many years since the Chinese government signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. If the State Council continues to delay requesting ratification by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China would risk losing credibility in the eyes of the world’s governments and is certainly not qualified to call itself a “people’s government.”
On October 5, 1998, Ambassador Qin Huasun, then China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, signed the Covenant on behalf of the Chinese government at the UN Headquarters. Almost 16 years have passed, but the State Council has not even initiated the process to request the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to review and ratify the Covenant. The reasons for this are truly unfathomable.
It must be stressed that, as of November 1, 2010, 167 of 193 UN Member States have formally acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mainland China is clearly far behind in keeping up with the pace of mainstream human civilization. This is truly a shame for the 1.3 billion Chinese and for all of humankind.
Here is a country with five levels of government, from the Central Government to the provinces, municipalities, counties, and villages, and one that calls itself a “people’s government.” Yet its people do not even enjoy minimum protection of universally recognized human rights. How does such a government find the nerve to say it is a “people’s government”?
3. When citizens’ basic rights are not protected and social conflicts are becoming ever more acute, there is perhaps a risk of collapse.
In the last 30 years, the achievements in economic development in Mainland China are evident. But at the same time, graft and corruption are rampant, the privileged are running amuck, the rich are heartless, pollution of the natural environment is serious and worsening, the wealth gap is expanding, and social moral standards are declining. People at the lowest rungs of society are deeply unhappy about this. It can be said that their discontent is seething and their grievances are heard everywhere, and the level of antagonism between the government and the people, as well as that between the poor and the rich, has reached an extremely serious degree. The extreme social breakdown and confrontation run the risk of explosion and collapse.
The deep roots behind the aforementioned phenomena are the expansion of government powers at the expense of civil rights: basic civil rights, including citizens’ right to vote and be elected, right to freedom of expression, and rights to freedom of association, assembly, procession, and demonstration, are fundamentally not protected. [Citizens] are unable to supervise the government in any way. Therefore, government officials naturally become corrupt while scandals emerge one after another. Those below follow the example of those above, the entire society has abandoned the correct values, and [people] stop at nothing to hurt each other in pursuit of material wealth and material desires and pleasure.
In light of the serious situation illustrated above, the immediate ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, absorption of modern political civilization in keeping with the trend of the world, human rights protection, and building of a modern, constitutional, democratic country have become a consensus on core values among the entire nation. This is the route one must take to resolve the aforementioned social conflicts and is certainly the natural, legal obligation of the State Council and National People’s Congress Standing Committee. There cannot be any further delay!
In the accordance with the relevant stipulations of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, namely,
Paragraph 1 in Article 2: “All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people.”
Paragraph 2 in Article 27: “All state organs and functionaries must rely on the support of the people, keep in close touch with them, heed their opinions and suggestions, accept their supervision, and work hard to serve them.”
Paragraph 1 in Article 41: “Citizens of the People's Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to relevant state organs complaints and charges against, or exposures of, violation of the law or dereliction of duty by any state organ or functionary; but fabrication or distortion of facts with the intention of libel or frame-up is prohibited.”
We, 1.3 billion citizens, are the country’s true masters. We have not only the right but also the “power” (i.e. the sovereignty rests with the people, who are the true, ultimate holder of state sovereignty) to solemnly make the following demands of the State Council and National People’s Congress Standing Committee:
1. The current State Council should immediately submit a report to the current National People’s Congress Standing Committee to request the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
2. The current National People’s Congress Standing Committee should immediately approve the State Council’s report and agree to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The great tide of human rights is irreversible. Those who submit shall flourish; those who resist shall perish.
Let us jointly anticipate, facilitate, and advance the earliest arrival of the day when the level of human rights protection in China conforms with that of mainstream global civilization!!!
Wang Cheng (王成), Citizen of the People’s Republic of China
ID Number 42060219751107****
Profession: Full-time lawyer
Mobile phone: 18989878464 13616501896
Email address: email@example.com
February 8, 2014
Note 1: Signature format: full name + place of origin or residence + profession.
Note 2: Methods of signing: 1) please send an SMS to the mobile number 18989878464, or 2) send an email to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Using one of the methods will suffice and please do not duplicate.
Note 3: The list of signatories will be compiled and published by lawyer Wang Cheng (Wang Chuxiang, 王楚襄) of Hangzhou. Please contact him promptly if there is any omission or error.
Note 4: This joint appeal activity aims to gather one million signatures in the short-term and 10 million in the long-term, until the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ratifies the Covenant.
Note 5: Because the expected duration of this joint appeal activity is relatively long, the number of participants large, and the amount of work in compiling and publishing the list of signatories heavy, and in order to ensure accuracy and sustainability, the collection, compilation and publication [of signatories] need to be decentralized to the provinces. Therefore, I now sincerely invite citizens from all provinces in the country (municipalities directly under the Central Government, autonomous regions, and special administrative regions) who are willing to actively participate in this activity to contact lawyer Wang Cheng, and 34 citizens will be confirmed to collect and compile signatures in their respective provinces, which will be aggregated by Wang Cheng for eventual publication.
These 34 citizens and lawyer Wang Cheng (Wang Chuxiang) will collectively be the initiators of this joint appeal activity.