Critical Legal Thinking › Should Liu Xiaobo have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Critical Legal Thinking › Should Liu Xiaobo have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?. Critical Legal Thinking blog – Author Gilbert Leung – 15 October 2010

It echoes an other article I read this week-end while getting back on track with my pile of newspapers.

The main argument centers around the question of whether it was politically wishfully thinking to award the Nobel prize to China’s dissident Liu Xiaobo who defends HR.

Both articles state that 1) the move is interpreted by China as a Western imposition of its own views on HR and politics rather than a signal to liberalise Chinese society, 2) further down that line, that the West is promoting a criminal to the rank of a hero (Liu X is considered as an offender rather than a political dissident), 3) the move will have an adverse effect on the dissidence’s movement that is likely to suffer further repression.

Both also conclude that despite all the above, it was right to give the Nobel’s peace prize to Liu Xiaobo.

More interestingly, both go further than that.

Leung argues that if Liu wants to succeed, he must stop using Western terminology in HR and political freedom, and respects his own culture (for eg Confucianism), like Gandhi did. In other words, he must transcend the cultural origins of HR because to defend universal values is only possible if one expresses it in local terms. I find the paradox fascinating, not the least because it echoes a whole trend of discussions in comparative law about legal pluralism, culture etc…

Garton Ash (The Guardian) refers to three approaches the West can take: capitulation (giving in to China’s request for example not to receive the Dalai Lama), Huntingtonism (acknowledging that China can do whatever it wants at home – the problem is where is home in the Internet age?), or dialogue with China about universal values and what they are. Obviously, the issue is: even if the West wants to listen and talk, would China accept?

But beyond this question-mark, both authors do not reach so different conclusions. What Leung advocates for Liu to do is one side of the coin, Garton Ash arguing the other side.



About Audrey Guinchard

Senior Lecturer @ University of Essex (UK)
This entry was posted in censorship, Countries - China, Providers' liability. Bookmark the permalink.

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