Asia and human rights: debunking the myths

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(Paris) Human rights are the most powerful tool that can be used to denounce injustice and build better societies. In Asia, a number of leaders have cited so-called cultural particularities to deny the universality of human rights and justify repression, the abuse of power and systems of domination. In a report published today, entitled Demystifying Human Rights Protection in Asia, FIDH analyzes these claims and debunks the myths that surround the relation Asian countries have to human rights.

“This report shows that attempts to single out Asia on the basis of cultural relativism are an excuse to ignore human rights. So-called ’Asian values’ are instruments of power and domination that are deployed to legitimize attempts at preserving the political, social and economic status quo and to delegitimize dissenting voices.”

FIDH Secretary-General and Altsean-Burma Coordinator Debbie Stothard

Through an analysis of national, regional and international perspectives for the protection of human rights in Asian countries, of their similarities and differences, as well as of advancements and limiting factors in these countries, this report shows the relevance of human rights as a tool to analyze Asian societies and to bring about social change.

“The report published today is very timely. It is a scathing response to those who promote the idea of a ’clash of civilizations’ or seek to compartmentalize the world’s regions, societies and cultures.”

FIDH President Karim Lahidji

The reflections contained in this report are based on work done by FIDH and its Asian member organizations and on annual lectures given at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The report aims to shed light on the protection of human rights in Asia. It is published on the occasion of the third anniversary of the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (an instrument that civil society deems unworthy of its name) and the UN’s 70th anniversary.

Read the report Demystifying Human Rights Protection in Asia.

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