Washington International Law Journal


Tai-Heng Cheng


Human rights situations are often analyzed and described in binary terms, that is, whether rights have been violated or upheld. This Article argues that it is more meaningful to measure human rights situations in terms of deviations from a central case of key characteristics, and to understand the subtle interplay of social, political, and economic vectors that cause such deviations. Using Singapore as a case study, this Article demonstrates that in any State the real human rights situation revealed by central case analysis can be dramatically different than the traditional binary assessment of that situation. The Article concludes by showing how the central case methodology can be used by all decision-makers in every State to promote human rights, with particular reference to recent disputes over Muslim minority rights in France and Singapore, and the executive detention of enemy combatants in the United States.

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