75 Nordic J. Int'l L. 187 (2006)
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: One Covenant, Two Chinese Texts

handle is hein.journals/nordic75 and id is 197 raw text is: Nordic Journal of International Law, 75: 187-209, 2006.               187
 2006 Koninklijke Brill NV Printed in the Netherlands.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
One Covenant, Two Chinese Texts?
SUN SHIYAN*
Abstract. This article discloses the fact that there have coexisted two Chinese texts
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. One of the texts has been
widely used by the United Nations and in China for more than three decades.
However, it is not the authentic Chinese text of ICCPR. The authentic Chinese text
of the Covenant, as published in the United Nations Treaty Series, has been rarely
referred to in Chinese literature on human rights. The article compares the two texts
and points out a number of mistakes in the widely used text in the light of the object
and purpose of the Covenant. The article also analyses the legal and practical conse-
quences of the situation, and proposes both a legally justifiable and practically
acceptable solution to the problem.
1. The Two Chinese Texts of ICCPR
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a sig-
nificant component of international Bill of Human Rights and the most
authoritative legal instrument in the field of civil and political rights. ICCPR
was adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2200 A (XXI)
on 16 December 1966 and entered into force on 23 March 1976. There are
154 State Parties and 7 signatories to the Covenant as of 3 June 2005.
The People's Republic of China signed the Covenant on 5 October 1998,
but has not yet ratified it. Chinese scholars have been actively conducting
research on the issue of China's ratification and implementation of the
Covenant. However, in the process of research, it has been noticed that there
are many substantive discrepancies between the Chinese text of the Covenant
that has been widely used by the UN and in China on the one hand, and the
authentic English text on the other hand. Those discrepancies may result in
different understandings and interpretations of related provisions, and further
* Research Fellow, Professor, Centre for International Law Studies, Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences, Beijing. The author wishes to thank Prof. Manfred Nowak, the late Prof. Jerzy Sztucki, Prof.
Liu Nanlali, Dr. Jonas Grimheden and Mr. Miles Hogan for their inspiring comments on the research; and
Mr. Leif Holmstrom, Ms. Lena Olsson, Ms. Lynne Moorhouse and Ms. Zhang Huiqiang for their help in
searching for reference materials.

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