Do ‘Asian Values’ on human rights exist?

To scholars and practitioners of international human rights law, the 1990s Asian Values Debate was irrefutably debunked by the Asian Financial Crisis and regional rights progress. Yet ASEAN states are stuck in a strange ‘time-warp’ and invariably resurrect the Asian values defence to ward off ‘intrusive’ human rights engagement, consequently preventing them attaining their ironically oft-professed UN human rights standards. This study situated in the universalism-cultural particularism debate calls their bluff – what exactly are these as-yet-undefined Asian values? It explores the historical, ideological, and philosophical roots of ASEAN’s guardedness towards human rights; whether it is truly and justifiably rooted in notions of ‘Asian values’ or is merely defence against ‘Western political/ideological imperialism’; what these cultural norms comprise; and how these norms – ostensibly rights-supportive – can be socialised into the ASEAN psyche.