Ph.D. candidate at the University of New South Wales
Globlalisation and Human Rights: China and the Question
International human rights discourse and practice has always
been subject to great controversy. Western engagement with Asia,
and in particular, China, has radically altered the human rights
landscape, confronting the discourse with the question of cultural
difference. This issue has forced Western human rights scholars,
activists, public and private elites back to reflect with some
anxiety, upon their own cherished tenets of national and moral
identity. Many human rights practitioners have argued that this
confrontation with cultural difference has served to weaken the
human rights project. However, other have argued that this confrontation
has opened up a discursive space in which to re-conceptualise
a truly global ethics, tied to a global politics. This paper
will explore the more recent challenges to the legitimacy of
international human rights discourses in the context of the emergence
of China, the `Asian Values' debate and the processes of globalisation.
Furthermore, this paper will argue that a new respect for the
economic and social dimensions for human rights has emerged.
Globalisation has re-drawn the boundaries of human suffering.
Western human rights diplomacy has traditionally concentrated
on injustices inflicted by states against citizens. The internationalisation
of capital has resulted in a heightened consciousness regarding
the human rights of workers. In the Asia-Pacific region, new
forms of resistance are emerging and forming tentative global
coalitions. Trade unions, anti-sweatshop consumer campaigns and
grass-roots environmental movements are all currently engaged
in re-defining the boundaries of the human rights project.
Anastasia Kapetas is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New
South Wales. She is currently researching a thesis entitled:
Western Visions of Human Rights and China: Crisis and Transformation.
Recent publications include:"Expanding Human Rights: China
and the Asian Challenge."
30 min paper