Donnelly Ch 7- HR and "Asian Values"

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 3388E
James S Quinn

Donnelly Chapter 7 HR and “Asian Values” In the 1990’s debates arose from Asian leaders and intellects who argued that culturally based differences justified substantial deviations from standard interpretations of international human rights norms. 1. Sovereignty and International HR Sovereignty is a standard ground for rejecting international HR standards. “The rights of each country to formulate its own policies on HR protection in light of its own conditions should be respected and guaranteed.” This would subordinate HR to the competing rights and values of sovereignty (HR secondary to sovereignty). • Sovereignty is an important condition for rights protective regimes (think colonialism), but it is not a sufficient condition. Sovereignty alone does little to address internal HR protection and violations • Rights abusive regimes often hide behind the criticism of sovereignty to draw attention away from their rights violations • “it would seem that Asians have no right to define and practice their own set of values about HR”  that is true for all countries, not just Asian. o Authoritative international HR norms govern internationally defensible definitions of HR o UDHR is not distinctly western since all countries party to the charter accept it 2. The Demands of Development It is argued that systematic infringements of HR are necessary and justifiable or desirable to achieve rapid economic development. • There is nothing distinctly Asian about this argument; the sacrifice of civil and political rights to economic development has been a mainstay of dictatorships of various kinds in all regions. • Short-term sacrifice of economic and social rights to development has been a stable of capitalist development strategies and is part of the new orthodoxy preached (and imposed) by the IMF and other western dominated international financial institutions. • Trade-off arguments appeal to universal development imperatives that override both culture and HR. • Violations of HR for economic development must be kept to a minimum in number, duration, and severity. 3. Economic and Social Rights • Developmental perspectives focus on production o Economic and social rights are concerned with the distribution of goods, services, and opportunities, which must be guaranteed to every person even when pursuing the most noble social goals. 4. Individuals and Society This argument centers on the claim that Western HR practices reflect a corrosive, hedonistic individualism that gives inadequate attention to social duties and is incompatible with traditional values and with any plausible conception of human dignity and decency Mahathir argues that “governments, according to the liberal democrats, cannot in any way act against the personal wishes of the individual in society… incest to them is not wrong… if that is what is desired by the individuals.”…. Total misconception • There are no absolute rights and freedoms in the world. Individual rights and freedoms must be subjected to the requirements and p
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