The European Union as Promoter of Equality in Asia: Beyond Economic Tools of Influence

The European Union as Protector and Promoter of Equality (ed. Thomas Giegerich)

University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2020/019

22 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020 Last revised: 21 May 2020

See all articles by Holning Lau

Holning Lau

University of North Carolina School of Law

Kelley Loper

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

The European Union’s (EU’s) foreign policy objectives include promoting equality rights around the world. Commentary on such efforts in Asia has focused on the EU’s application of economic pressure to influence Asian states. This chapter seeks to shift the focus to a range of non-economic tools that the EU uses to promote equality rights in Asia. These “soft power” options include, but are not limited to, conducting official “human rights dialogues” with Asian leaders, providing technical assistance to government and civil society actors, developing social media campaigns, and setting positive examples through progressive law reforms in the EU. This chapter first explains why it is important for the EU to support equality rights through the exercise of soft power. It then specifically considers the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as a source of soft power. Some Asian courts cite the ECJ as persuasive authority. The ECJ thus indirectly promotes equality rights in Asia by setting examples. It is problematic, however, that Asian courts learn from the ECJ while the ECJ and other EU institutions fail to reciprocate by learning from rights-protective Asian courts. This unidirectional flow of information reflects and reinforces neocolonial dynamics. The EU could allay concerns about neocolonialism, and perhaps increase its influence in Asia, by engaging Asian courts in a two-way dialogue on equality rights.

Keywords: European Union, Asia, Equality, Nondiscrimination, Transnational Judicial Dialogue, Soft Power

Suggested Citation

Lau, Holning and Loper, Kelley, The European Union as Promoter of Equality in Asia: Beyond Economic Tools of Influence (2020). The European Union as Protector and Promoter of Equality (ed. Thomas Giegerich), University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2020/019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3580633

Holning Lau (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-8514 (Phone)

Kelley Loper

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://hub.hku.hk/rp/rp01267

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Center on Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law ( email )

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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