Is it possible to implement or even conceive of human rights in a holistic fashion as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations’ covenants on human rights? Or should human rights be thought of and put into practice as determined by a country’s history, culture, and level of development? Further, should certain rights have priority over other rights? Currently human rights research has focused on the debate between what has been called individual versus collective human rights. On one side of the debate are Western nations, which tend to define human rights in terms of individual rights, arguing that civil and political rights are the most important of human rights (even at times referring to them as “universal rights”). Others, primarily from developing countries, argue that human rights should be seen in relation to a country’s culture, history, and level of development (often referred to as cultural relativism). At the heart of this debate is the question: which rights have priority when defining and implementing human rights, the individual or the collective? This debate has been especially intense between Asian and Western countries. By examining a case that has a unique history influenced by both

Eastern and Western culture, this chapter investigates some of the central questions raised in the debate.