A Conversation with Bi Jiawei about the UN Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

The China Research and Analysis Blog is happy to report that the Foundation for Law and International Affairs (FLIA) and the Coalition for Peace and Ethics (CPE) will be among the non-governmental organizations to attend the United Nations Forum on Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law on November 21 and 22, 2016.

FLIA and the CPE will contribute to the inaugural session of the Forum by giving a delegation composed of young persons an opportunity to make their voices heard, thus broadening the space where differing views on the topics of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law can be expressed.

In addition to enabling young persons to express their views on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, FLIA and the CPE have organized a side event with the title “Political Participation and the Global Civic Education of Youth”. The side event will provide a space where the youth will express their own ideas on how education enables active participation within their own political systems.

The China Research and Analysis Blog has held a short conversation with one of the members of FLIA and the CPE’s delegation, Mr. Bi Jiawei (毕家玮)


CRA: Tomorrow you will have an opportunity to contribute to an agenda on human rights, democracy and the rule of law  drafted at the United Nations. The agenda  will set the tone of future discussions about what role young persons should play in politics. As one of the participants to the Forum, you will have a chance to contribute to the adoption of the agenda. You have lived in China and abroad, therefore you have come to know and to understand different countries, different cultures, different ways of thinking. Based on your experience, what is the contribution you would like to bring to the Forum?


Bi Jiawei: Frankly speaking, I don’t have an ambition to unify different cultures and their respective ways of thinking. I highly respect the diversity of the world, and I will try my best to adapt myself to different cultures and different ways of thinking from different countries. Maybe being a facilitator among persons from different backgrounds is the best contribution I can bring.


CRA: What kind of resources, in your opinion, do young people need to be good global citizens, and good citizens in the society where they live?


Bi Jiawei: Education should always be the most substantial resource. The definition of education is not limited to formal education plans, but also includes the fertilization of thinking methods. From my point of view as a Chinese person, I believe that critical thinking is important. It is not only a way of thinking, but also a way of opening one’s mind towards the world. Therefore, broadening the horizon of young people’s knowledge and thinking methods is necessary for them to be good citizens  in their societies.


CRA: What kind of rights should young people concretely enjoy, to have an opportunity to construct a better world for everybody?


Bi Jiawei: To burst the energy of this world, we indeed need more young voices to be heard. This world cannot and should not ignore young voices only because they are lacking in social experience. Not only the UN can provide this platform, but as to more social perspectives and circumstances, the society should be free for young people to practice their own thoughts


CRA: The divisions we see inside a single societies are mirrored by the divisions we see between countries. But, our societies are made by us, and opportunities to overcome divisions exist in our daily lives. How can we make the best use of these opportunities?


Bi Jiawei: Back to the first question. Divided societies are just like the differences existing in our backgrounds. These differences offer us opportunities to respect and understand each other. That’s the first step to begin communication and bring divided societies together.


CRA: Many criticize social media on various grounds, but according to international human rights bodies social media are important to allow young persons to be good global citizens. What is your opinion on this?  


Bi Jiawei: Social media are the most popular and most effective mean to spread opinions now. Not only for young people, but also for all members of society. The traditional view towards social media shall be changed and this tool should be immediately used to lead society, instead of being criticized it in a out-dated way.

Born in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China, Bi Jiawei  studied International Law at Leiden University, before moving to The Hague, where he now lives and works as the Administrative Director of The Chinese Initiative on International Law. Bi Jiawei will attend the United Nations Forum on Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law as one of the members of FLIA and the CPE’s delegation.

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