Taipei Times: Youself and 17 others comprise the UN's Human Rights Committee elected by state parties (of the ICCPR) to monitor the implementation of treaty obligations at the national level. What's the biggest issue being considered by the committee at this moment?
Nisuke Ando: It's that China is still not a party [to the covenant]. To that end, we've tried to encourage as many countries as possible, but so far China has only signed, but not yet ratified, the treaty.
We would like the covenant to apply to all the Chinese people but China is very sensitive to that.
PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES
But the interesting thing is that Hong Kong, under British colonial rule, was party to the covenant. And when it was returned to Beijing in 1997, [human rights] became a big issue. Fortunately, China agreed that the covenant should continue to apply to Hong Kong.
It's interesting that they are ruled by the same government but because of the peculiar situation, there are two systems to implement human rights.
TT: If a country has unequivocal sovereignty over its domestic affairs, why should they be obligated to act in compliance with international human rights standards?
Ando: I would say that leaving the implementation of human rights [safeguards] to state machinery alone is likely to result in abuse or violations of human rights.
I need not mention what the Nazis did to the Jewish population within Germany. We also know that until very recently, South Africa racially segregated its population, discriminating against the political rights of colored citizens.
We saw in both cases that human rights violations were "justified" by the domestic laws of those states. Without universal norms, you can't possibly expect states to fully promote and protect the rights of their citizens.
TT: The UN has, during the last decade, encouraged countries to create their own national human rights institutions. Now Taiwan is also planning to create one. What are the key features of these kind of institutions?
Ando: It should be the duty of any state or government to make the utmost use of its existing organs -- that is the legislature, executive branch and judiciary -- for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights.
But very often they don't work that well [to safeguard human rights] and so we need to add something more.
Not only do existing state organs sometimes fail to uphold human rights, but sometimes they actually interfere with human rights.
That is to say, an independent institution is needed to advise and constantly monitor whether a state is effectively complying with universal human rights standards.
But I need to make it clear here that national human rights institutions should by no means become a fourth branch of a government. They should not be strong enough to dictate rules on their own.
Their roles, in my view, should just be limited to that of an advisory body.
TT: What do you think is a fundamental way to incorporate the concept of human rights into every individual's life?
Ando: I think it has to be through human rights education. Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defers to everyone rights to a social and international order, where all human rights provisions of the declaration can be fully implemented. But in article 29, the declaration states that everyone has a duty to society where his or her potential can be fully developed.
In the end it's up to each person to defend not only his or her own human rights but also those of other people.
And for that purpose, I think we do need good human rights education for everyone and that should be an important role of national human rights institutions.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang