The evolution of human rights: Institutions, changes, and values in Southeast Asia
MetadataShow full item record
In the 1990s, human rights became an issue of debate among some Asian governments, Western countries, and international civil society. The famous Asian values discourse proposed by Southeast Asian politicians and intellectuals places strong opposition to the universality of human rights and argues an alternative way that regional countries should follow in terms of human rights promotion and protection. While the debate reached its zenith in the mid-1990s, the Asian financial crisis smashed the material foundation that of these counter-arguments against universal human rights. It seemed that the Asian values discourse has faded away. This dissertation is intended to examine the human rights politics in Southeast Asia in the last three decades. To avoid the “dialogue of the deaf” condition prevailing in, this study adopts a empirical approach to analyze the factors that influence the varied conditions of human rights across the region of Southeast Asia. The main part of the dissertation consists of three separate but related analyses. At the international level, this dissertation examines the factors that affect the degree of human rights treaty ratification among Southeast Asian states. At the regional level, a case study is conducted to analyze the newly-established ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). At the domestic level, the analytical focus is put on the conditions that affect the actual level of personal integrity rights protection among regional countries. The findings show that Southeast Asian governments do not demonstrate much difference from countries in the other regions of the world. Strategic consideration dominates their patterns toward human rights regime participation and actual rights protection. The widely-noted factors, democracy and economic development, are positively associated with better human rights performance. However, their magnitude of influence is not as significant as expected. In terms of treaty ratification, foreign aid serves as the principal factor. On the other hand, Domestic and Interstate conflict pose more profound influence on the actual level of personal integrity rights protection than democracy or democratization do. Key Words: human rights, Southeast Asia, Asian values, ASEAN, democratic lock-in, economic development, internal conflict, external conflict, official development assistance.