The Right to Life and Human Dignity in Asia

This chapter surveys the right to life as a constitutional right in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. I begin with a recount of the history of the right to life. I argue that the right to life before WWII is typically formulated in the “due process model”, such as in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. After WWII, a second generation version of the right to life evolved with its own distinctive characteristics. The direct effect of this development is the decline of death penalty. The right to life in Asia mainly reflects the first generation understanding. Only recently has the second-generation understanding begun to infiltrate into some Asian constitutions.