Norway-China 20 years of Academic Cooperation

2017 marks a milestone of the NCHR having supported legal education and research in China for 20 years. 

6. May 1998 Nils A. Butenschøn, professor and head of the IMR (now NCHR) signing the first academic cooperation agreement Chinese universities.

The China Programme was founded in 1997, as the first country programme at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR). The Programme was established as an academic complement to Sino-Norwegian Human Rights Dialogue and has played a key role in building Norwegian competence on human rights in China. For 20 years, the NCHR has promoted international human rights law standards in China through education and research projects in cooperation with Chinese partner institutions. Download anniversary report (pdf).

NCHR at the University of Oslo is based on a multi-disciplinary commitment and supports activities which promote the development, understanding and application of international human rights standards. Long-term involvement and close collaboration with Chinese academic partners has been the cornerstone of our work, says Cecilie Figenschou Bakke, who has been Director of the China Programme since 2006. 

Below are some of the key result of the NCHR's engagement with Chinese academic partners. 

Human Rights Education  人权教育 

Human rights education was not offered at any institution of higher learning when the China Programme was established. Over the past 20 years NCHR and Nordic partners have conducted expert trainings on international human rights law, enabling participants to set up human rights courses at Chinese universities. Today, more than 70 universities offer human rights education to students in China. 

  • More than 600 university law teachers and lecturers have attended trainings on human rights law in China through the NCHR’s focus on strengthening human rights education at Chinese law schools.
  • 188 law scholars from 59 institutions in Western China have been given the opportunity to learn more about international human rights law through a special training programme supported by the NCHR from 2005 to 2010.
  • 300 law professors have gotten the chance to network and discuss how to promote human rights education in Chinese law schools through Annual National Educators Academic Meetings facilitated by the NCHR.
  • 18 Chinese students have graduated from the NCHR MA Programme on the Theory and Practice of Human Rights, many of which are working with human rights in China today. 

Rule of Law  法治 

The NCHR has engaged in dialogue and supported several projects on access to justice and strengthening of human rights knowledge among legal professionals working in the area of criminal justice. 

  • 1000 judges and court officials have participated in trainings on fair trial standards, revised criminal procedure law and human rights in South China. 
  • Several key publications on criminal justice, penal reform and human rights standards have been translated into Chinese for use in education and research. 
  • More than 150 law scholars and practitioners have participated in seminars on children’s rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and legal assistance for vulnerable groups.
  • The NCHR have facilitated exchange of more than 30 legal clinic students and professors from Peking University Legal Aid Clinic and Jussbuss.
  • 60 law experts and professors participated in trainings on IHRL and Criminal Justice in preparation of the revised Chinese Criminal Procedure Law. 

Equality and Non-Discrimination  平等与非歧视 

In order to strengthen the awareness of equality and non-discrimination, the NCHR contributes to ongoing legal reform processes, and supports initiatives to implement existing legislation. In China, NCHR cooperation has focused on discrimination in employment, minority rights, women’s rights, sexual minorities, and the rights of persons with disabilities. 

  • 5000 copies of a children’s Encyclopedia series was translated to Tibetan and distributed to 1,100 Tibetan schools in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Tibet for use in education.
  • 140 media workers and journalists attended workshops on equality and non-discrimination, covering topics of gender, disabilities, health, and SOGI rights, which resulted in 271 media reports on equality issues.
  • 130 labour law experts, media workers, government officials, and civil society representatives participated in international workshops regarding ILO and UN standards on non-discrimination in the workplace. 

Business and Human Rights   商业与人权 

The NCHR offers an important academic base for studies and discussions concerning Human Rights and Business through master courses, academic research groups, publications and seminars.

  • 80 Chinese representatives from trade unions, employee organisations, government institutions, and academia participated in a Beijing seminar on international labour standards, business and human rights.
  • More than 200 participants from Norwegian enterprises along with representatives from the government and civil society sector have attended conferences and meetings on human rights and business arranged by the NCHR in Norway and China.

Human Rights Mechanisms   人权机制 

Access to information about the United Nations' processes helps enrich domestic debates on state obligations and how human rights can be implemented. The NCHR has provided opportunities for academic partners to learn more about regional and multilateral processes vital to the protection of human rights.

  • 16 Chinese scholars have participated in UN hearings of China under the CRPD, ESCR, CEDAT, CAT, and the new Universal Periodic Review (UPR) through NCHR supported study visits to Geneva.
  • 24 Chinese law and development scholars attended our research seminar on human rights and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Competence Building in Norway   加强挪威的能力建设 

The China Programme has also played a key role in building Norwegian competence on human rights in China. An up-to-date understanding of Chinese developments is important to foster Norwegian cooperation with China. The China Programme has provided advise to organisations, universities and government institutions enganging with China. 

By Susanne Flølo
Published Nov. 30, 2017 6:35 AM