GENEVA (10 August 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will undertake his first official visit to China from 15 to 23 August 2016. The purpose of his visit will be to assess the efforts of the Chinese Government to eradicate poverty and how such efforts are anchored in its international human rights obligations.
The Special Rapporteur will meet representatives of the central and local governments, non-governmental organizations, academic experts, representatives of international organizations and the wider diplomatic community. He will visit Beijing and will spend several days in Yunnan province.
“I am grateful to the Government of China for the opportunity to visit the country and to meet with both governmental and non-governmental actors,” said Alston, who is an independent human rights expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. “By speaking to a broad cross-section of Chinese society, I hope to learn more about China’s efforts in the areas of extreme poverty and human rights and to make a fair and balanced assessment of China’s record,” he added.
China has made significant progress in eradicating extreme poverty in the last few decades and given the size of its population, this progress has had an important and beneficial impact on global poverty levels, Alston noted. But as in the rest of the world, China faces many remaining challenges in tackling poverty.
The Special Rapporteur will examine poverty in China not just with regard to lack of income but with regard to many other contributory factors, including shortcomings in education, health care and social security, as well insecure land tenure, pollution, climate change as well as various forms of discrimination.
“The real challenge lies in safeguarding past achievements, while ensuring that remaining poverty in China, in all its dimensions, will be effectively tackled. This includes paying attention to disparities between rural and urban residents and other forms of inequalities. I look forward to learning more about the plans of the Government to address these challenges and the role that individual Chinese citizens and a broad and diverse group of civil society actors can play in these efforts,” Alston said.
China has ratified various human rights treaties, which include a broad set of human rights, that are relevant to poverty eradication. The Special Rapporteur will look at how China has recognized these rights in its domestic legal system, ensured that institutional support is given to their promotion, and put in place accountability mechanism for their protection and enforcement.
“China has consistently emphasized the importance it attaches to economic and social rights in particular. I am looking forward to learning from my interlocutors in China how these, and other, human rights have been guaranteed in China’s Constitution and domestic laws, how they have been institutionalized in the policies of the Government, and what channels exist for Chinese citizens to invoke these human rights to hold the State to account for the lack of their fulfilment,” said Alston.
The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference to be held at the end of his mission on 23 August at 4pm at the UN Large Conference Room (No.2, LiangMaHe NanLu, Beijing). Copies of his end of mission statement and press release will be available in English and Mandarin. The Special Rapporteur’s final report will be submitted to the Human Rights Council in June 2017.
Professor Philip Alston (Australia) took office as UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in June 2014, following his appointment by the Human Rights Council. He is John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Mr. Alston has previously served the UN in several capacities including as Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals, as well as chairperson of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Poverty/Pages/SRExtremePovertyIndex.aspx.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
UN Human Rights, Country Page –China
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