Document Type : Research Article


Assistant Professor of Political Science, Faculty of International Studies, University of Hawaii Pacific


Human rights have been a controversial issue in the post-Cold War period. The controversy begins with the West’s assertion of the existence of a universal conception of human rights that is applicable to all peoples of the world. This paper explores the Vietnamese response to that assertion. A common point made by Vietnamese critics of Western human rights universalism is that such a claim is an abstraction from concrete historical experience. Rather than an abstract principle, Vietnamese thinkers tend to approach the issue of human rights as one that develops in the process of an ongoing struggle against oppression and inequality in human history.Vietnamese authors also reject the Western notion of human rights, as having its basis in the notion of an atomistic individual, with little reference to his/her social nature.  Instead, Vietnamese writers argue for a conception of human rights that is based on the human being as deeply shaped by social relationships


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