Universal human dignity: Some reflections in the Asian context

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Abstract

The idea of “human dignity” is accorded a prominent status in domestic constitutions and international human rights law. Its symbolism as a universal ground of human rights sits awkwardly with the absence of a precise definition. The concept has evolved over history and has been interpreted in various ways by people holding different worldviews. The elusive nature of human dignity creates challenges when it is evaluated across cultures. Despite its common association with the concept of liberal democracy, the idea of human worthiness is not necessarily absent in Asian societies, many of which function under alternative political systems.
A cross-cultural perspective requires putting aside ethnocentrism and exploring the convergence of views from different belief systems. Examples from Confucianism and Islam may provide insights on how human dignity is understood and realized in various Asian contexts. Copyright © 2008 Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalAsian Journal of Comparative Law
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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human dignity
human rights
ethnocentrism
Confucianism
symbolism
worldview
political system
Islam
constitution
democracy
Law
history
society

Citation

Lee, M. Y. K. (2008). Universal human dignity: Some reflections in the Asian context. Asian Journal of Comparative Law, 3(1), Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1017/S2194607800000211

Keywords

  • Human dignity
  • Human rights
  • Asia
  • Confucianism
  • Islam
  • Comparative constitutional law