Document Type


Publication Date


First Advisor

May Sim


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) lists what have come to be called “first” and “second” generation rights. First generation rights are civil and political (for instance, the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble); second generation are social, economic, and cultural (protection against unemployment, universal healthcare, equal pay). However, Western and Asian nations are in disagreement about whether or not all of these generations of rights should be universal. While Western nations strongly believe that first generation rights should be universal, Asian nations insist that their unique “Asian values” require second generation rights to precede first generation rights. It turns out that many of these “Asian values” are derived from the Confucian tradition. However, scholars debate whether Confucianism supports first-generation rights, second generation rights, or both. I have concluded that Confucianism supports both generations of rights. After analyzing the Confucian values in detail, it is clear that Confucians need access to the first and second generation of rights in order to best follow the tradition.