Lawyers and civil rights groups have raised concerns that the government is creating space for itself to redefine universal suffrage by asking in the green paper whether democracy means 'one man, one vote'. They said leaving so many issues open to debate opened the way for government to redefine issues to suit its own needs, enabling the retention of functional constituencies. 'I feel that in the green paper [on political reform] the government is trying to seize all the excuses for it to make up all the principles [on universal suffrage],' said Law Yuk-kai, of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. At the heart of the issue is the government's refusal to recognise a key international covenant defining the concept of 'universal and equal suffrage' despite repeated condemnation from the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which argues the article should apply once direct elections are used to make up the legislature. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifies that every citizen has the right 'to vote and be elected' through 'universal and equal suffrage'. Supplementary comments on this article say 'the principle of one person, one vote must apply'. The green paper, on the other hand asks, 'does universal suffrage mean selecting the CE by 'one-person-one-vote?'' And states that the UN 'has not clearly defined 'universal and equal suffrage''. Add to that an option in the green paper to retain functional constituencies, albeit with revised electoral methods, and pan-democrats fear the government is preparing space to redefine universal suffrage. Civic Party lawyers in particular have expressly announced Article 25 should apply as soon as elections take place for Legco. Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee noted the green paper and the chief executive himself have pledged to uphold international standards of universal suffrage. 'But whenever there is a passage that says this in the green paper, there is always a qualification, such as making sure that Hong Kong' s 'unique situation' be taken into account as well as 'balanced participation',' she said. Regarding the 'principles of design of universal suffrage models', the green paper states: 'In overall terms, Hong Kong's universal suffrage system should be consistent with the concept of 'universal suffrage' as generally understood internationally.' But then adds: 'That aside, should the system be designed having regard to Hong Kong's unique circumstances?' A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau asserted its commitment to 'universal and equal suffrage', but added that each jurisdiction, 'while conforming to the general international understanding of universal suffrage, can also develop its electoral system having regard to the particular needs and aspirations of its people, the uniqueness of its socio-economic situation, and its historical realities'.