Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Edmund Burke afirmó en el siglo XVIII que, en la India, la leyes de la religión, de la tierra y del honor están fundidas en una sola que vertebra eternamente a individuos y sociedades. Cientos de años después, en la actualidad, algunas organizaciones de la sociedad civil india denuncian las consecuencias de ese sistema. Entre ellas figura People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), cuyos líderes recalcan que la universalidad de los derechos humanos no cala en el país por la resistencia de los círculos tradicionales a prescindir de los poderes conferidos por hábitos milenarios. Sin embargo, el intelectual vivo más reconocido del Subcontinente, Amartya Sen, nos recuerda cómo muchos siglos antes el emperador Ashoka, considerado el fundador de India, incluyó entre los objetivos de su gobierno la ausencia de agresiones, la imparcialidad y las buenas maneras hacia todas las criaturas.
De haberse trazado a finales de los 90 esta comparación entre la inflexible tradición descrita por Burke y PVCHR, y la armonía igualitaria de la que hace gala Ashoka, la defensa de la tolerancia predicada por este último habría sorprendido a muchos. Hace apenas quince años, el debate sobre el carácter irreconciliable de los derechos humanos universales y los llamados valores asiáticos estaba en pleno apogeo. La defensa de los segundos se basaba en la supuesta incompatibilidad de los derechos humanos con principios tradicionales que entronizan el orden y los valores colectivos frente a las libertades individuales. Según sus defensores, la preeminencia de los valores asiáticos evitaría la degradación de las costumbres propias del modo de vida occidental. La idea fue esgrimida por gobernadores como Lee Kuan Yew, ex primer ministro de Singapur, quien la llevó a nuevas dimensiones prácticas al popularizar la idea de que el autoritarismo favorece el desarrollo económico.
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August 16, 2012
Pablo Díez

Friction between Asian values and universal human rights emerges. Or maybe never was.

Edmund Burke said in the eighteenth century, in India, the laws of religion, land and honor are fused into a single vertebra that individuals and societies forever. Hundreds of years later, today, some civil society organizations denounce Indian consequences of that system. These include People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), whose leaders stress that the universality of human rights in the country creek no resistance by the traditional circles to dispense with the powers conferred by ancient habits. However, the most recognized intellectual alive Subcontinent, Amartya Sen reminds us how many centuries before the Emperor Ashoka, considered the founder of India, included among the objectives of his government's lack of aggression, impartiality and good manners towards all creatures.

Had traced to the late 90s this comparison between inflexible tradition described by Burke and PVCHR and egalitarian harmony which boasts Ashoka, the defense of tolerance preached by the latter would have surprised many. Just fifteen years ago, the debate on the irreconcilability of universal human rights and so-called Asian values was in full swing. The defense of the latter was based on the alleged incompatibility with human rights principles that enshrine traditional values order and collective versus individual freedoms. According to its proponents, the prominence of Asian values prevent degradation of the customs of the Western way of life. The idea was put forward by governors as Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's former prime minister, who took it to new dimensions practices to popularize the idea that authoritarianism promotes economic development.

The opposition between Asian values and human rights promoted by Western liberal democracy part of a vague notion, since it is impossible  to encapsulate the complexity of the traditions of Asia into a single concept. However, it works as a unifying element for different countries that share economic and moral arguments to avoid interference. Lee's thesis seems to argue, without going any further, the development model and inflexibility brilliant policy of China, where the authoritarian pragmatism caters more to the sublimation of the national economic future than the corsets of tradition. In India, however, the universality of human rights has fallen by the wayside not only pragmatic visions of the future, but above all by the desire to preserve the traditional elites and the religious organization of society. Since Asia is a vast continent, each country is to avoid disparate motivations dive full in the universal regime of human rights.

The debate now seems outdated, but the Asian skepticism towards the concept of human rights survives. China continues perched on the indispensability of the heavy hand as the foundation of economic growth. India, especially in rural areas, is adept at unquestioned aegis of the caste system. In turn, the relationship of authoritarianism to economic success, which is normally considered more typical of the Subcontinent Far East, stands out among the Indian authorities. According to the latest report published by Amnesty International, Mahomman Singh's government focuses on economic growth at the expense of human rights.

Since Asia is a vast continent, each country is to avoid disparate motivations dive full in the universal regime of human rights.

The rise of Asian values and doubts about Western formulations are also present in the ongoing process of regional integration of human rights. After 45 years of common history, the nations of ASEAN are arranged in November to approve a declaration of human rights. Experts who have seen drafts of the text argue that, contrary to the defendant by the champions of Asian values, the document will not contain explicit references to prioritize the rights of the community over the individual. But beyond this progress, the declaration shall follow the inviolable principle of non-interference in the sovereignty of the Member States, so that its scope will be diminished input.

The statement will be further weakened by the geographic disparity, religious and cultural life of the countries comprising ASEAN, which includes communist regimes, constitutional monarchies, multiethnic democracies or authoritarian city-state. They also include metamorphosed always exceptional and Myanmar, whose opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is among the more regional political figures have criticized waterproof Asian values as the universality of human rights. Given the disparity of values and interests, Asian nations are not common purposes that encourage them to agree on the statement. Contrary to what happened in Europe, where the rise of communism and the trauma of Nazism provided very strong arguments for the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights in Asia motivations seem less compelling and more subject to the predilections of each State .

The disagreement in this and other episodes spanning several continents, not just Asia. But it is in Asia where some of the most inspiring examples to relegate human rights background. From little Amartya Sen has served recalcase in 1997 that economic success does not depend on the heavy-handed, but the improvement of education, land reform, investment incentives and the rational use of international markets. Lee's theses are especially tempting at a time when Europe economic evidence and dismantles wear by cutting a part of the repertoire of rights enjoyed by its citizens. The rise of Asia and the decline of the West keep getting recurring cultural justifications for human rights not hinder state sovereignty and economic development.

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