POL208Y1 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Human Security, National Security, Democratic Peace Theory
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Asia’s Different Standard (Bilahari Kausikan)
Human rights have become a legitimate issue:
Emerging global culture of human rights & body of international law on it.
Post-Cold War: Western emphasis on human rights. East and Southeast Asia
are re-examining their own human rights standards: respond seriously China,
Indonesia, Burma, Tokyo, South Korea, etc.)
Improvements over the last 20 years, moving beyond a purely defensive
attitude to a more active approach to human rights.
Critics and problems:
•Promotion of human rights was used as an ideological instrumental the East
•An instrument of economic competition. The West tends to emphasize values
like openness and equal opportunity as economic competitiveness rises.
•Intentions: Reason of prominence of human rights: reputation/image in media
publics, NGOs, other interests groups. It is therefore difficult for Western
governments to find politically compelling arguments to ignore human rights
violations (pressure coming from the modern communication technologies)
Taking about human rights is an easy, cheap, and popular war to exercise influence
or maintain the illusion of involvement.
•Intention to appease the West, self-interests and pressure.
•Movement toward greater emphasis on human rights is not even.
•It is difficult to deepen and expand the international consensus on human
rights if East and Southeast Asian countries think that the Western
promotion of human rights is based on the foundation of their own economic
•Difficult to pursue the same (western) path:
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Western interpretation of human rights: diversity of cultural traditions,
political structure, and levels of development do not necessarily suit the
Lecture notes: Everyone has different approaches to human rights (1st,
2nd,3rd generation rights the West, the communist bloc and the less
Unlike the West, some Asian countries such as Japan cannot escape the
consequences if pressing human rights or forcing the pace of political
change in its Asian neighbors leads to instability. (Distance makes it
easier to be virtuous; proximity makes for prudence)
Promotion by all countries will always be selective, even cynical Policy
motivations are rarely simple.
Post-Cold War: human rights will be influenced by the power structure and dynamic
of a more regionalized world trade and security will be prioritize in the
international agenda. However, it is becoming more and more important.
It is impossible to settle international laws on human rights once and forever: all
international norms must evolve through continuing debate among different points
of view. The implementation those laws will always be political and reflects the
changing global power structures and political circumstances. (Lecture notes:
Impossible to have a human rights policy because it distorts national interests and
is too broad, ineffective, and expensive.)
Doubts and suggestions:
•Take consideration of the realities, values, cultures, and interests of the state
which they try to help.
•Insist on humane standards of behavior by vigorously protesting genocide,
murder, torture, and slavery. A legitimate right and moral duty to promote
those core human rights: Help East to improve their existing system rather
than encouraging “wild dreams” of self-determination.
oExample : Protest against disappearance of East Timorese in Jakarta,
object to the torture or murder of Tibetans.
The responsibility is mainly on the West but we don’t know if the West is prepared
to intervene and remain engaged, for decades, to restore order.
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Summary – Asia’s Unacceptable Standard (1)
(The article begins addressing Kausikan’s points and along came Neier’s
argument of them. After this was a more political focus I think.)
Kausikan’s point #1: Characteristics of the West and the East.
The West -“individualistic” or “adversarial”. The East - “communitarian” or
The West and the East both have its own way of “individualistic” and
EX. Hong Kong falls into the “individualistic” West category with their
There are also communitarian characteristics in the West, John Locke and
Jefferson believed that the essential purpose and the function of a good
government was the exercise of human rights. This would lead to a civilized
Relating to the lecture as there was one slide saying the 3 different worlds.
Each world has their own view of what are human rights. No one view was
absolute and the ultimate definition of human rights.
Neier argues that “consensus imposing” fits better than the term “consensus
seeking”. “Consensus seeking” implies the freedom of speech and the
freedom of media.
Kausikan’s argument #2: “the authoritarian systems of Asia have produced
stability and prosperity for their people…”
The authors sees human rights play a stronger part economically rather than
stability and prosperity.
He argues that open societies in the world today are the leading economies
rather than the closed ones. But he also suggests that denial of political
freedom would mean economic failure.
EX. Japan press’ criticism would not be tolerated in other ones such as China,
Singapore etc. Hong Kong is not a democracy but has better media freedom
than Singapore and a uprising economy.
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Emerging global culture of human rights & body of international law on it. Post-cold war: western emphasis on human rights. East and southeast asia are re-examining their own human rights standards: respond seriously china, Improvements over the last 20 years, moving beyond a purely defensive attitude to a more active approach to human rights. West: promotion of human rights was used as an ideological instrumental the east. West struggle: an instrument of economic competition. The west tends to emphasize values like openness and equal opportunity as economic competitiveness rises. Intentions: reason of prominence of human rights: reputation/image in media. It is therefore difficult for western governments to find politically compelling arguments to ignore human rights violations (pressure coming from the modern communication technologies) Taking about human rights is an easy, cheap, and popular war to exercise influence or maintain the illusion of involvement.