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The Quest for Human Rights (Essay Sample)

Topic: While a narrow school of human security concentrates on threats of violence, the broader approach analyses socio-economic menaces resulting from underdevelopment. Another contested issue in human security studies is the role of the state: In many developing countries and notably in failing states, rather than solving security problems, the state sometimes is the problem, endangering the rights and security of its citizens. The lecture debates the role of human rights for human security in the development process. In that context, it will compare the arguments of politicians from Asia (China, Singapore, Malaysia) who argue for the primacy of economic rights with Amartya Sen's notion of substantial freedom. Discussion Points for essay: What are the so-called “Asian values” and how ‘Asian' are they? What are the motives of the proponents of ‘Asian values'? Assess the arguments that the Asian ‘economic miracle' of the 1980's and 1990's was the result of Asian values. Are Asian values in conflict with Western/liberal notions of democracy and human rights? What are the implications of the Asian values debate for Australia's sense of social/psychological security in Asia? Sources: Zakaria, Fareed “Culture is Destiny: A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew Foreign Affairs March/April 1994. Sen, Amartya “Human Rights and Asian Values” The New Republic, 14-21 July, 1997. Sheridan, Greg “Asian Values on the Road Again” chapter 14 in Sheridan, Greg Asian Values and Western Dreams Allen and Unwin, Sydney. pp 293-317. Englehart, Neil A. “Rights and Culture in the Asian Values Argument: The Rise and Fall of Confucian Ethics in Singapore” Human Rights Quarterly 22 (2000) pp 548-568. source..
Introduction to Asian Values
Asian values refer to the influence of Confucianism caused by loyalty towards one’s family, corporation and nation. It also involves the continuing of personal freedom in pursuit of stability and prosperity of the society. Other definitions of Asian values involve academic and technological excellence. Some of the values which make up Asian Values include Predisposition towards single-party rule in place of political pluralism, preference for social harmony and consensus in place of confrontation and dissent. Other values involve preference for the welfare and concern for the benefit of the community over the individuals’ rights. According to the proponents of Asian values, it is claimed that these values are more relevant in Asia as opposed to liberal values and institution of the West.
These values stress the significance of hard work but nothing is particularly Asian about these values. They are more of Christian values. They seem natural to poor peasant inhabitants anywhere. Asian values also stress the significance of education. But education is also emphasized in Western countries. Asian values also call for respect of older people and filial piety for parents. This is a true distinction because some young people in the West may be show less respect to their elders as required and prefer that wages be related to ability rather than age.
Motives of proponents of Asian values
The use of these values was more popular in People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It is believed that it was this concept was embraced in Malaysia and Singapore because it reconciled Islam, the dominant religion in Malaysia with the Confucianism of the Chinese and Hinduism. This resulted into creation of a sense of common values between various ethnic and religious groups in those countries as well as an ideology that is original to Asian rather than the West. The popularity of the idea in Japan among some nationalist circles was brought by its opposition to the West as well as its ability to offer leadership to the Japanese in a new Asia. During 60s and 80s, the main countries that achieved economic growth and wealth creation were the Eastern and South Eastern Asian regions. Proponents of Asian Values claim that this success was due to distinctive ‘third-way’ Asian political system that was touted as an alternative to totalitarism and liberal democracy. The major proponents of these values were Mahathir Mohamed and Lee Kuan Yew who were prime ministers of Malaysia and Singapore respectively.
How Asian values brought economic miracle in 1980s and 1990s
Many explanations are provided for economic miracle that characterized the development of Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s when economic crisis took place.
One theory explains that the cause was mainly strong-strategically astute governments and that promoted certain kinds of industries particularly those with expo...
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