Handbook on Human Rights in China
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Handbook on Human Rights in China

Edited by Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig

This Handbook gives a wide-ranging account of the theory and practice of human rights in China, viewed against international standards, and China’s international engagements around human rights. The Handbook is organised into the following sections: contested meanings; international dimensions; economic and social rights; civil and political rights; rights in/action and access to justice; political dimensions of human rights in Greater China; and new frontiers.
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Chapter 4: China and the international multilateral human rights system

Ann Kent


China’s involvement with international human rights institutions has, since 2008, moved beyond its earlier position combining rhetorical and procedural compliance, selective domestic legislative change and an emphasis on specific international human rights norms, such as the right to development, to policies and procedural strategies that undermine the very warp and weft of the international human rights system. It is challenging fundamental international norms and procedures such as the international rule of law, the principles of universality and consensus and the right and responsibility of international organizations to set standards and monitor states' compliance with them. It is also encouraging other states to defect from these universal norms in favor of individual state preference. Precisely because these fundamental international organizational norms, ideals and procedures are so critical to the authority, legitimacy and effectiveness of international human rights institutions, China’s general normlessness and strategic diplomacy arguably represent their greatest threat. The current US challenge to international human rights, moreover, has only encouraged and legitimized China's stance.

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