ASEAN'S Struggle with Human Rights: Universalism versus Cultural Relativism
Linden, I.W. van der
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When the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) was adopted in 2012, it led to international criticism that it fell below international human rights standards. Even nuanced scholarly works referred to cultural relativism and Asian values, while no research had been done on public opinion regarding the AHRD in the region. The AHRD therefore provides an interesting and concrete starting point to re-examine universalism versus cultural relativism in the region where Asian values were once so fiercely proclaimed. This thesis answers the question to what extent South East Asian newspapers lean towards universalism or cultural relativism in their articles on this declaration. It follows the definitions of David Duquette on several forms of universalism and cultural relativism and uses discourse analysis on the 86 articles from the Jakarta Post from Indonesia, the Bangkok Post from Thailand and the Phnom Penh Post from Cambodia between the first of January 2012 to the last of December 2013. It then concludes that these newspapers and their readers, the educated upper and middle classes, lean most towards strong universalism.