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SCRIPTS Working Paper No. 40 by Xinyuan Dai and Lucie Lu

Beyond Liberal Narratives. China and the International Human Rights Order

News from Apr 16, 2024

The meteoric rise of China represents a seismic shift in International Relations. With a focus on human rights, we examine this shift‘s implication on the international institutional order – does China challenge, undermine, and replace rules and institutions that an earlier and much weaker China did not get to participate in making? Using the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as a laboratory, we analyse more than 93‘000 recommendations made between 2008 and 2021 to reliably depict where China stands on international human rights norms and how China‘s position compares with others. Our findings suggest that China is invested in international human rights governance, and rather than seeking to replace the international human rights regime, China selectively endorses some rules more than others, just as the United States and most other countries do. Importantly, China‘s position overlaps that of most countries and resonates significantly within the Global South.

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