The question of human rights from an Asian perspective
The concept of human rights from the very beginning was involved in political struggle and up to now is manipulated by governments, politicians and various groupings for their purposes. Being deeply rooted in the Christian intellectual tradition its universal implementation faces various difficulties in the countries that belong to other traditions, in particular Confucian and Buddhist. Among the principal problems in the Asia-Pacific region the author points out a collectivist notion of an individual and different interpretation of “freedom”, as well as absence of the legal tradition and the emphasis on obligations rather than on rights. Therefore, in the Asia-Pacific region two elements, crucial to “human rights”, are lacking: an autonomous individual as a subject and the recognition of innate rights. Moreover, the Confucian political tradition elaborated a different concept and structure of state. Under historical tradition and circumstances political aspirations of the people were very low and the movement for human rights could not be born. It was initiated only recently under the Western impact. The author analyses potential scenarios of the future evolution and indicates that the economic development and social transformations in course will increase autonomy of an individual and strengthen legal order, as well as stimulate further democratization initiated in the region merely at the end of the 1980s. However, in order to introduce the concept of human rights to social and political practice a profound transformation of East Asian civilization is required.