economic v. political


Economic rights V. Political rights in China

Human Rights Law

Wei Xiaowei

The rights set up in the universal declaration of human rights are the rights of individuals, and often are divided into two parts, the economic, social and cultural rights, civil and political rights. The political rights are often regarded the rights to protect individuals from arbitrary power of state, while the economic rights are the ones concerned with material, social, cultural welfare of the individuals. While separated, the two categories of rights are closely connected to some extent. For instance, one cannot participate in the cultural life of the country if one doesn’t have the right to freedom of expression and thoughts, or the right to form trade unions can’t be achieved without the right of peaceful assembly.

There is an on-going debate among united nation members and NGOs, as the two categories are embodied in the two covenants on human rights which means they must be enlarged and developed simultaneously. Does one set of rights take priority over another? In western countries, the assumption is made that civil and political rights are more important and that’s why the West-based human rights movements and ideological trend always focus on civil and political rights. On the other hand, in many third world countries, governments start holding the opinion that civil and political rights can’t be guaranteed unless the development of economic achieves certain adequate level. They believe that economic rights must come first, and as a result there are many groups actively promoting the economic and social rights.

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