Global Concepts, Local Meanings: How Civil Society Interprets and Uses Human Rights in Asia
AuthorSetiawan, KMP; Spires, AJ
Source TitleAsian Studies Review
PublisherInforma UK Limited
University of Melbourne Author/sSetiawan, Ken
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsSetiawan, K. M. P. & Spires, A. J. (2021). Global Concepts, Local Meanings: How Civil Society Interprets and Uses Human Rights in Asia. Asian Studies Review, 45 (1), pp.1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/10357823.2020.1849028.
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-09-01
Over the past few decades, the human rights movement has made impressive inroads in Asia: human rights have become enshrined in national constitutions as well as increasingly visible in popular discourse and as a legitimising resource for civil society groups. With the recent rise of populist leaders and increased nationalistic discourses, however, a backlash against rights-based activism and counterclaims made by illiberal groups have brought into question the present and future of human rights as a tool for emancipation. In this article we argue that despite these current challenges, and drawing on case studies from the Philippines, China, Korea and Malaysia, human rights continue to inform and strengthen civil society. At the same time, it is also possible that civil society and state actors may use human rights towards sometimes contradictory ends. The contestation and articulation of rights across the region, however messy, demonstrates that human rights remain a valuable resource for civil society actors to promote political and social change even in the face of immense challenges.
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