Dear Friends and Colleagues，
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning! I am so delighted to join you in the Symposium on Global Governance and International Law sponsored by Zhejiang University. The topic of the symposium is extremely important and germane to the changing world we are in at the moment. Please allow me, on behalf of the Department of Treaty and Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, to express our congratulations and gratitude to the sponsor and organizer of the Symposium. I’d like also to extend our warm welcome to experts and legal scholars from home and abroad. Your firm commitment to promoting rule of law and sound global governance is very much appreciated. I hope that the symposium you are having today may be a tribute to great cause of building a community of shared future for mankind in respect of the global governance at a new era.
Now I’d like to kick-off today’s discussion by giving you some my own thinking on the global governance and international law.
First of all, I have to say that the global governance is at stake, and our world is facing serious deficits in respect to peace, development and governance. The basic question herein is that what has happened to the world and how should we respond? To answer this question, we need to get clear about another fundamental issue: Where did we come from? Where are we now? And where are we going?
There have been a number of important moments in history since the modern times that have shaped the international order. For instance, the end of the Thirty-Years War and the international order based on the Peace of Westphalia, the end of Napoleonic Wars and the Concert of Europe, the end of World War I & II, and the international order centered on the League of Nations, and its successor the United Nations.
What has happened over centuries has proved that the development of international relations, and the forming of the international system, at each period, bears a unique mark of the time. We all need to move on and keep abreast of the times to make the international relations and international system of our times effective and relevant to the world we live in.
We are now in a critical moment again: mankind is in an era of major development as well as profound transformation and change. The trend toward multi-polarity and economic globalization continues to develop, the emerging economies and developing countries as a whole are playing a more important role in international politics. IT application in social development and cultural diversity are making continued progress. A new round of scientific and industrial revolution is in the making. Interconnection and interdependence between countries are getting more crucial for human survival. There is a growing call for a fairer and more equitable international order.
At the same time, mankind is also in an era of numerous challenges and increasing risks. Global governance is far behind the pressing needs of the international community, with growing uncertainties and destabilization. The impact of the international financial crisis lingers on and the development gap is widening, the movement of anti-globalization, unilateralism and protectionism is surging. Black swan incidents frequently happen, such as Britain exit and American retreat. Armed conflicts and geopolitical turbulence occur from time to time, cold war mentality and power politics still exist and non-conventional security threats, particularly terrorism, refugee crisis, major communicable diseases and climate change, are spreading. In short, challenges faced by human-being is unprecedented. No wander some western scholars have cried out that we are about to enter a world of disorder.
There is only one Earth in the universe, and we mankind have only one homeland. How should the current global governance be adjusted to the new situations and the new challenges?
What China proposes as a solution is to build a community of shared future for mankind, calling upon all nations to stay with the track of multilateralism, and work collectively to fix the problems on our way to improving the global governance, which is also the call of our time.
Building a community of shared future for mankind envisions a world of lasting peace, a world of common security for all, a world of common prosperity, an open and inclusive world, and a clean and beautiful world, providing a Chinese solution to the global governance deficit, which is also the shared aspiration of the people. It is the duty of the politicians around the world to make sure that this aspiration is achieved, and it is also the duty of the legal scholars to devise adequate international law tools to facilitate the realization of the aspiration.
Although building a community of shared future for mankind is a relatively new concept, I am sure that it will definitely evolve into global consensus. It has been included in a number of international instruments and UN resolutions, for instances, the China-Russian Joint Statement，the Qingdao Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the latest one, the Beijing Declaration on Building a Closer China-Africa Community with a Shared Future, adopted just two months ago at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
One may also note that the concept of “a community of shared future for mankind” has already taken root in international law. The concept of “common heritage of mankind” in the law of the sea, and the concept of “common concerns of the mankind” and “common but differentiated responsibilities” in the law of environmental protection, in particular, climate change negotiations, are two of the examples, and there are many others. However, building a community of shared future for mankind is not only related to the rules or legal regimes governing global commons, it covers all areas of international law, both traditional areas like trade and investment, and new areas like internet and artificial intelligence as well as the global governance.
I have a few additional emerging thoughts in my mind on how we can proceed from here in the context of improving the global governance.
First, the global governance needs to be lightened up by advanced new ideas. To meet challenges, new mentality is required to turn a zero-sum game into a positive-sum game. Politically, it needs to foster a new thinking of building partnership, and to find a new path of having dialogue without confrontation and making partners without forming alliance; Economically, to foster a true sense of community of shared interests and to secure the greatest common interests possible in seeking common development; On the security front, to build a world of security for all, a common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security; Culturally, to promote inclusiveness and mutual learning between civilizations. Each civilization is proudly unique of its own and all add to the common asset of the human race. With this different mindset, the winner-takes-all approach would be no longer prevailing in the international relations, and a new type of international relations oriented toward win-win cooperation would become a reality.
Secondly, States need to cooperate to develop the rule-based international order at this critical moment, coming up with a new set of principles and rules in the light of the building a community of shared future for mankind. The global governance and international law are definitely intertwined. International law is central to a just and peaceful world, yet global governance is an important means to the world peace. As pointed out by a famous jurist 200 years ago, “To be without a code is to be without justice”. International rule of law is, therefore, a key institutional guarantee for the global governance. The UN Charter and the multilateralism are essential for a fairer and more equitable post-war international order, and must be preserved. The trade war or the unilateral use of force or sanctions is detrimental to the rule of law. States need to stay committed to the fundamental principles of sovereign equality, non-interference in others’ domestic affairs and non-use of force, and work closely to defend multilateralism. However, I cannot agree with the argument advocated by some western scholars that States should dilute sovereignty in order to improve global governance.
Thirdly, the concept of building a community of shared future for mankind needs to be concretized and crystallized in legal terms in binding international legal instruments, international treaties or customary law, as we have seen in the legal instruments for the outer space, the deep seabed, and also the negotiations under the United Nations concerning biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. We need to encourage those treaty practices and to cultivate States, so to speak, to contribute more for the benefit of the world and future generations. More importantly, States need to form a culture of contributing to global public goods. In this way, States’ self-restraint for the general interests of the international community may one day become a rule of customary international law, like the experience of the seabed regime.
Furthermore, building a community of shared future for mankind needs to respect different cultures, and to ensure that all cultures stay in harmony. While the States claim that they respect the equality of all cultures, the gap between what they claim and what they genuinely believe is huge. This is where international law should come into play. Cultural diversity is not only about culture, it is also about global governance. I think this is a good juncture where we shift our focus to the global governance-related aspect of the building a community of shared future for mankind. The promotion of cultural diversity is vital to the sound global governance.
Last but not the least, building a community of a shared future for mankind requires an effective dispute resolution. Peaceful settlement of disputes is a fundamental principle of international law, and is a building block for maintaining world peace. Disputes between countries should be addressed through dialogue and consultation instead of the use or threat of force. The peaceful settlement of disputes needs to strike a balance between two sets of values, efficiency and fairness. Any solution that is not fair is not sustainable; only when the disputing parties agree that a third party solution is required can this solution be offered. Dispute settlement is, after all, essentially party driven, which is the fundamental difference between the peaceful settlement of dispute and domestic judicial systems.
In conclusion, I wish your symposium every success!
Thank you very much!