ABSTRACT

This chapter builds on earlier work (Bacon, 2011, 2015), and considers the human rights strategy of the European Union (EU) in Asia through the lens of interregionalism. In this book, regionalism is defined as ‘institutionalized multidimensional cooperation among neighbouring countries’ and interregionalism as ‘institutionalized multidimensional cooperation between at least one regional grouping and either a region or large country which belongs to a different continent’. This chapter suggests that a ‘localizing’ country-specific human rights strategy works well, and that the EU has to date enjoyed success with more localized strategies in China and Japan. It also argues that separating economics and politics, trade and human rights, and putting a priority on the achievement of economic objectives has been successful in some cases, such as in the cases of Canada and Japan. Both of these lessons (localization and the separation of trade and human rights) can be applied to the EU-Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) case, where existing attempts to consolidate a region-to-region approach to human rights have not been successful. It is therefore necessary for the EU to focus on trade and free trade agreements (FTAs) with ASEAN countries, and also to pursue localized, not conditionality-based approaches to human rights with these countries.