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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Postgraduate Course: The Rule of Law and Human Rights in East Asia (ASST11085)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryEver since the expansion of the western world into East Asia in the middle of the nineteenth century, the strict application of certain laws and principles and the guarantee of fundamental rights have been the subject of contention, not only between the West and East Asia, but also within the East Asian region itself. Whereas sovereignty and extraterritoriality were the keywords of the prewar period, the discussion now has turned towards the tension between sovereignty, rule of law and human rights. Again, the fault lines run not simply between 'the East' and 'the West', but divide countries within East Asia and even the public discourse within these countries. During the postwar period, the significance of rule of law often has been relativized by pointing out the economic success of such 'developmental' states as Japan or Singapore and contrasted with an 'Asian' culture of law and fundamental rights. Japan's economic troubles since the 1990s and the financial crisis of 1997 have led to a somewhat more sophisticated approach to the subject of universal norms and cultural particularity. However, the rise of China to economic and strategic dominance guarantees that the subject of this course will remain on the forefront of discussion within the foreseeable future.
In a first part, this course introduces students to the theoretical and historical background of the principle of rule of law and human rights and their reception in East Asia. A second part will be devoted to the factual situation of rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights in East Asian countries, its institutional prerequisites and implications for the governmental and legal practice of various countries. A third part will focus on the discursive side, questioning the discourse on the rule of law in various East Asian countries and alternative visions of an 'Asian' legal culture. Students will be introduced to the human rights discourse in East Asian countries, especially to the continuing critique of a western-oriented interpretation of human rights and the suggestions of remedies. In a concluding part, the rule of law, human rights and legal transformation are viewed in the light of East Asian integration and, putting forth the question to which extent these can function as a motor for further convergence of legal cultures and normative consciousness (note: 'East Asia' in this context is understood in the wider sense that underlies various regional association, thus also including ASEAN states).
Course description Theoretical foundations: The rule of law and human rights

Historical background: The globalization of western law and the legal transformation of East Asia

The rule of law, case studies I: Developmentalism and 'administrative guidance'

Case studies II: Judicial independence and the legal professions in China and Japan

Culturalist interpretations of the rule of law and visions of an 'Asiatic' legal culture

Human rights, case studies I: Criminal justice and capital punishment in China and Japan

Human rights, case studies II: Civil and political rights in China and Japan

Case Studies III: Ethnic minorities in East Asia

The critique of human rights and 'Euro-genetic' international law in East Asia

The impact of rule of law and human rights on East Asian international relations
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Build a solid understanding of the theoretical and historical background of the principle of rule of law and human rights and their historical reception and development in East Asia.
  2. Provide an overview of the situation of the rule of law and the protection of fundamental human rights in East Asian countries, the institutional prerequisites and the implication of these principles for governmental and legal practice.
  3. Engage critically with the discourse on the rule of law and human rights in East Asian countries and their critique of these concepts and alternative visions of legal culture.
  4. Understand how the rule of law and human rights affect the process of political and legal integration in East Asia.
  5. Develop the ability to critically assess sources and documents related to the rule of law and human rights situation in East Asia and the relating discourses.
Reading List
McAlinn, G., and Pejovic, C., eds., 2011, Law and Development in Asia, New York: Routledge.
Tang, J., ed., 1995, Human Rights and International Relations in the Asia Pacific. London: Pinter.
Tamanaha, B.Z., 2004, On the Rule of Law: History, Politics, Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hoffmann, S.-L., ed., 2011, Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Urs Matthias Zachmann
Course secretaryMr Alan Binnie
Tel: (0131 6)51 1822
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