Esther Song / Joanne Yang

China’s Adherence to International Human Rights Treaties: An Empirical Assessment

International Area Studies Review | 2023

  • Abstract

    Despite China’s growing participation and accession to international human rights treaties, there exists a wide perception that China violates international human rights norms. When empirically assessing whether China adheres to international human rights norms outlined in international human rights law, we find that there is variation across treaties and across time – China shows relatively higher adherence to norms pertaining to gender equality, economic rights, social and cultural rights, compared to rights to freedom from torture. Improvements in adherence to gender equality, economic rights, social and cultural rights have shown relative improvement over time compared to rights to freedom from torture due to previous efforts to improve welfare under Hu-Wen administration (2002-2012). We additionally find that the variation in adherence across treaties stems from China’s distinct human rights norms, which prioritize economic development and national sovereignty over indivisibility of human rights. Our findings contribute to furthering existing understanding of China’s relationship with the international human rights regime.


    International Area Studies Review

    Number of Pages



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