EGO Article on Decolonization

The age of decolonization is of crucial importance for our understanding of today’s world. By dissolving colonial rule around the world this process led to the emergence of new sovereign states, thereby permanently changing international relations and international law. It is especially the third phase of decolonization which is the one most closely associated with the term “decolonization” in the present and which refers to the end of European colonial rule after 1945. The process of the dissolution of the European overseas empires had a profound effect on the course of international history during the 20th century. This process occurred relatively quickly given that colonial rule had existed in some cases for a number of centuries. Only after just 30 years, from 1945 to 1975, all the colonial empires had disappeared from the global map.

This transformation proceeded by no means linearly or according to a set pattern. There were considerable differences between the various world regions, with cases of peaceful transition as well as extremely violent wars of decolonization. The colonial policies and strategic aims of the colonial powers and the strength of the respective anticolonial movements were the decisive factors. Additionally the Cold War confrontation and the growing importance of international organizations such as the United Nations were central aspects of the international context in which the third phase of decolonization occurred and they had a decisive effect on that process.

Concerning this international context various contributions on hhr has already linked the dissolution of European colonial empires with the debates on universal human rights as well as humanitarianism. Continue reading

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New Issue of Humanity

HUMANITY VOLUME 5, ISSUE 2

The new issue begins with two major pieces on the history of humanitarianism, including Daniel Cohen’s revelatory investigation of Christian humanitarianism in Palestine; turns to Vanessa Ogle’s insightful article on the “New International Economic Order,” which provides a foretaste of our special issue on the subject coming next spring; continues with David Shneer’s haunting commentary on Soviet photography of the Holocaust; and concludes with our usual array of reviews, notably Bronwyn Leebaw’s consideration of Ruti Teitel’s recent book.

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The Global Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1946-1994

Dr. Nicholas Grant, American Studies, University of East Anglia

Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/

15/07/14

Last month saw the publication of the Radical History Review’s special issue on ‘The Global Anti-Apartheid Movement’. Appearing on the 20th anniversary of South African democracy, the issue contains articles, roundtables and review pieces that explore a range of transnational connections that shaped political opposition to white supremacy in South Africa. As editors Lisa Brock, Alex Lichtenstein and Van Gosse comment in their introduction, “in seeking contributions to this issue, we made a deliberate effort to give the truly global nature of the movements in solidarity with southern Africa their due.”[1]

Radical History

The Radical History Review Special Issue on ‘The Global Antiapartheid Movement’ No. 119 (Spring, 2014)

Whilst activism in the US and Britain continues to dominate much of the scholarship on the international anti-apartheid movement, this special issue makes an important effort to move beyond this occasionally restricting narrative. The articles within the issue therefore address different forms of activism in a number of diverse geographical contexts. For example, Jerry Dávila examines how black civil rights activists in Brazil were influenced by and drew upon anti-apartheid agitation in South Africa; Alex Lichtenstein’s interview with Sietse Bosgra sheds light on the Dutch anti-apartheid movement and its links to anticolonial liberation movements throughout Africa; whilst Teresa Barnes broadens the definition of the global ‘anti-apartheid’ struggle in her gendered analysis of activist networks forged between American radicals involved in the women’s health movement and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). In addition to this, Scott Laderman adds a fascinating new perspective on the relationship between sport and the anti-apartheid movement by examining the responses of professional surfers from around the world to calls to boycott South African events on the world tour in the 1980s. Continue reading

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New Book: The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights

In one of my earlier posts  I have discussed the issue of human rights concerning the Romanian Orthodox Church. Today I would like to draw your attention on the new book of the Austrian political scientist and sociologist Kristina Stoeckl on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to human rights. “The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights” was recently published by Routledge.

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I consider this book as a major contribution to the subject. The author is very well informed and approaches almost all the determining issues of the debate. Her discussion of the crucial pattern of modernization in the Eastern Churches (see my contribution), their relation to post secular globalized and plural world includes subtle analysis from the perspective of sociology, political sciences, politics, international law and even theology. The interdisciplinary approach opens a multitude of perspectives, but bears also some difficulties.

As she frankly acknowledges on page 130, Kristina Stoeckl is “a political scientist” and “has opted for a political-sociological analysis of the Russian Orthodox human rights debate”, but “as an outside observer [she has] not failed to notice the theological dynamic at play”. This is partially true, she notices indeed the theological dynamics, but misinterprets it. A religious scholar familiar with the theological and ecclesiological discourses within Eastern Christianity (the main issues when you have to speak about a ‘Church’) would criticize the lack of religious expertise. Therefor I would like to discuss following three aspects from a theological point of view: Continue reading

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Völkerrechtsblog – Blog on International Law

I would like to draw your attention to the “Völkerrechts-Blog” (blog on International Law) that is online since April 2014.

Völkerrechtsblog

The “Völkerrechts-Blog” has been initiated by a group of young scholars coming from Germany and Switzerland with a background in political sciences and international relations researching in the field of public international law.

The bilingual blog (German/ English) is being supported by an advisory board of scholars from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, and the United States.

Besides a “Link” list with essential links related to the subject and a “Services” section with posts on job vacancies, references to conferences or any other related announcements, you will find contributions to fundamental issues of international relations and law such as the role of language in international law, thought-provoking discussions, for example on theoretical and methodological perspectives, and not least responses to current developments and debates. Moreover, the contributions refer to topics such as the future of human rights and legal questions relating humanitarian interventions.

Enjoy reading and commenting!

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Edited volume “Just and Unjust Military Intervention”

In the light of the ongoing political crisis concerning the Ukraine and Syria the issue of justifying military intervention is high on the agenda of international politics. Despite the recent intense political debate, the theoretical discussion about just and unjust military intervention is much older. It reaches back to the texts of classical European philosophers of the early modern period. Already thinkers such as Francisco Suarez, Alberico Gentili, Hugo Grotius and Emer de Vattel referred in their work to this crucial issue of international politics.

For that reason Stefano Recchia, Lecturer in International Relations at Cambridge University, and Jennifer M. Welsh, Professor of International Relations at the European University Institute, have recently published the interdisciplinary volume Just and Unjust Military Intervention. European Thinkers from Vitoria to Mill, Cambridge University Press 2013.

Just and Unjust Military Intervention

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ICRC Exhibition “Humanizing War?”

On the occasion of the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863, and the signing of the first Geneva Convention in 1864, Geneva’s museums of art and history are presenting the exhibition “Humanizing War? ICRC – 150 years of humanitarian action“. The aim of this major exhibition is to show the various challenges the  ICRC has faced at different times and in the light of parallel developments in the nature of conflicts and violence.

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The concept of the exhibition is to focus on humanitarian action by the ICRC over 150 years by showing the development of:

• conflicts and the context of violence;

• the identities of victims and the kinds of violence they suffer;

• the ICRC’s work methods and resources, both technical and human. Continue reading

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Why is dignity in the Charter of the United Nations?

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Given the current fascination with”human dignity” — which I have canvassed elsewhere – a number of people are interested in why it became canonized in the first place.

It percolates around Western intellectual history from the Greeks (or more accurately Romans) on, and scholars like Michael Rosen and Jeremy Waldron have recently tried to interpret its historical trajectory, and puzzle through its theoretical implications. Christopher McCrudden has devoted a massive edited volume to it, and I have written about its role in recent American constitutional law on this blog.

But it could be that without Virginia Gildersleeve, no one would be talking about it today.

After all, even though it appeared early in the Irish Constitution of 1937, and a series of mainly West European constitutions after World War II, if “dignity” hadn’t been in the United Nations Charter (1945), I seriously doubt it would have been eligible for the current meditation and promotion it is undergoing. Continue reading

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Blog of the journal “humanity”

In one of my earlier posts  I have already referred to the excellent blog of the journal humanity, which was founded in October 2010 by Sam Moyn, Columbia University, New York.

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We have now decided to link more closely both blogs by cross-posting various contributions from time to time. Our aim is to reach out to the readers of both blogs and to intensive networking in the research field of the history of humanitarianism and human rights.

Enjoy discovering the various contributions!

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Conference: ‘Jewish Questions’ in International Politics. Diplomacy, Rights, and Intervention

Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture, Leipzig
University
12/06/2014-13/06/2014,

Leipzig, Simon Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidt 28,
04103 Leipzig, Gr. Seminarraum

In recent years a growing number of works have studied the role Jews
played in shaping the international system in the 19th and 20th
centuries to defend the rights of Jews in Europe and beyond. Dealing
with ‘Jewish questions’ such as citizenship and emancipation as well as
experiences of persecution, this field of research at the same time
reflects structures and problems of modern international politics more
generally.

The Dubnow Institute 2014 annual conference presents fresh studies on
this subject matter and seeks to discuss the historiographical and
conceptual questions that arise from the ‘transnational turn’ in modern
Jewish history. The papers in the conference will explore topics
relating to Jews and European empire, international organization,
transnational philanthropy, humanitarian intervention, minority rights,
human rights and collective claims.

Conference Programme

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Rhetoric of Massacre and Reprisal in Algeria’s War of Independence

Martin Thomas

Director, Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, University of Exeter

Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/

22/05/14

There has long been agreement among historians of Algeria’s violent decolonization that particular massacres and, more particularly, the retributions they provoked, decisively altered the nature of the conflict. Massacre, it is averred, changed the cultural codes, the military rules, and the permissible limits to mass violence within Algeria’s population and between French security forces and local insurgents.

Why this should be the case remains harder to explain. The demonstrative horror of mass killing intentionally shrinks the middle ground. It destroys the prospects for compromise, denying political and personal space to the otherwise non-committal. Meant to polarize, its violence signifies the ultimate rhetoric of shock. Little wonder that historians of Algeria’s war concur that massacres served as decisive conflict escalators, whether strategically, symbolically, or both.

This escalatory dynamic is something with which analysts of asymmetric warfare, civil conflict and revolutionary insurgencies – not to mention the witnesses to such dreadful events – have long been familiar.[1] Less well understood is the part played by rhetoric in propagating the messages that the perpetrators of such massacres wanted to convey. Did the mass killing of civilians during the Algerian War represent an extreme iteration of what Charles Tilly identified as the ‘repertoire of protest’? Were such actions rendered logical to some because opportunities to influence the actions of the state otherwise were so limited? In the Algerian Revolution as in the French, violence, remained a last resort for the marginalized, not the first.[2]

To follow Tilly’s logic, the repressive action of colonial authorities rather than the FLN’s ruthlessness must be held accountable for precipitating such killings.[3] This was certainly the FLN’s assertion but it was hotly contested by French authorities at the time as their own propaganda sought to prove. (see figure below).

                        Algeria

One of the least gruesome images from a 1957 Algiers government booklet, Mélouza et Wagram accusent showing Berber women grieving over children’s corpses after a village massacre carried out in reprisal for villagers’ support of the FLN’s party rival. Continue reading

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Journal of Modern European History (themed issue on humanitarianism)

The latest issue (vol. 12, no. 2) of the Journal of Modern European History is dedicated to ‘Ideas, Practices and Histories of Humanitarianism’.  It comprises seven articles and is guest-edited by Charlotte Alston and Daniel Laqua (the author of this blog post).

If your institution subscribes to the journal, you can access the articles online via this link. As you may gather, the first and final pieces on the site are separate articles – i.e. they are not part of our ‘humanitarian’ cluster.

For the benefit of the HHR blog’s readers, I shall offer a few comments on the content. You are also welcome to download our flyer (JMEH – Humanitarianism issue), which provides you with a handy overview. Although the pieces cover a considerable time span – from the early nineteenth century to the 1970s – they address overarching issues and questions. A particular focus is on European actors and the motivations that underpinned the adoption of specific causes.

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The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law

Crystallising a Sub-discipline of the History of International Criminal Law

International Criminal Law, as a relatively young discipline, occasionally still struggles with certain weaknesses in its own theoretical foundation. In an attempt to address this problem the Forum for International Criminal and Humanitarian Law (FICHL) organised an international conference entitled “The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law”. According to the organisers, the intention of the conference was “to pursue the vertical consolidation of international criminal law, by increasing knowledge about its historical and intellectual foundations and its social function, enhancing the quality, independence and viability of criminal justice for core international crimes in diverse and rapidly changing social contexts”.

The two day conference was held at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) on March 1st and 2nd 2014. The co-organizers of this event included the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, Peking University International Law Institute, City University of Hong Kong, and the European University Institute (Department of Law). The persons mainly responsible for the coordination were Assistant Professor Yi Ping (Peking University Law School), Professor Morten Bergsmo (Peking University Law School), and Assistant Professor Cheah Wui Ling (National University of Singapore).

The conference opened with a round of introductory remarks. Professor Mark D. Kielsgard (CityU) and CityU’s acting dean Professor Lin Feng welcomed speakers and guests as representatives of the host university. One of the distinguished guests of the conference, Geoffrey Robertson QC (Doughty Street Chambers), spoke for the conference participants. Professor Bergsmo, as part of the organizing team, then gave a short introduction to the seminar theme and commented on its relevance for modern international criminal law.

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Public Lecture: “Humanitarian Action in an Uncertain World” by Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel (ICRC, Geneva)

Dr. Jean-Luc Blondel , Chef de Division, Archives et gestion de l’information at the International Commitee of Red Cross in Geneva, will speak at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz on the topic “Humanitarian Action in an Uncertain World. Challenges for the International Committee of the Red Cross”.

This public lecture will take place on Tuesday, 20th May 2014, at 06:30 p.m.

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The entrance is free and guests are welcome!

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Conference: Humanitarianism and Changing Cultures of Cooperation, 05 June to 07 June 2014

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research Duisburg;
Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen
05 June to 07 June 2014, Essen, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen

Conference Programme:
THURSDAY, 5 June

12.30 – 13.30
Coffee and Registration

13.30 – 14.00
Claus Leggewie (KWI Essen): Welcome
Volker Heins (KHK/GCR21 / University of Bochum): Opening Remarks

14.00 – 15.30
Opening Lecture: Michael Barnett (George Washington University):
Periodizing Humanitarianism

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