Call for Papers from Meredith Terretta, University of Ottawa:
This proposed panel for the African Studies Association Conference, taking place from 20 to 23 November 2014 in Indianapolis, USA, takes up one of the conference themes: Histories and ethnographies of human rights, humanitarian intervention, and social movements. It explores the ways in which African activists from throughout the continent used human rights talk as political and legal expression before and after official independence. Conversely, it examines the ways in which colonial and/or postcolonial regimes used exceptional legislation (such as state of emergency, preventive detention, or anti-subversion laws) to circumvent human rights principles as they became applicable to African territories under European rule in the postwar era. Colleagues and advanced graduate students who have worked in the Migrated Archive (UK), in recently declassified files in other colonial holdings, in human rights NGOs records or in UN archives are especially invited to participate. Continue reading
The latest issue is out with articles of relevance.
Have a look @:
While the 1970s have been, properly, identified by recent scholarship as a moment of efflorescence for universal human rights, the picture, at least in the earlier part of the decade, was less than radiant. The Universal Declaration’s twenty-fifth anniversary was, for the most part, submerged – much more thoroughly so than it had been at ten, or even at twenty. The occasion was instead the platform to launch the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. At the Plenary meeting which ratified the decision in October 1972, a few minutes were devoted to the agenda item on a “Programme for the observance of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” – which was concluded rapidly, to allow for hours of rhetoric on national liberation, racial discrimination, and the importance of armed struggle in southern Africa and, on Cuba’s insistence, Puerto Rico. It was the most striking symbolic representation of the relationship between universal human rights, anti-racism, and violent insurrection. The struggle against racial discrimination, a sub-set of a much broader human rights concept, had almost consumed the parent category. 1948 was cited insofar as it underwrote the crusade, rarely much further. Continue reading
“1989” has become shorthand both for the triumph of human rights over state-socialist dictatorship and the subsequent implementation of a “neoliberal” reform agenda. Yet the coalescence of these two phenomena in Eastern Europe twenty-five years ago is quite surprising once we focus on the prehistory of 1989. Following the crooked paths that led to the annus mirabilis is thus a great opportunity to assess the transformation of human rights discourses during the 1980s.
Twenty five years ago, on 6 February 1989, representatives of Poland’s government and of the illegal democratic opposition began negotiations on political and economic reforms. Inaugurating their meetings at a round table that had been crafted specifically for this occasion, they set events in motion that became a major catalyst for the collapse of the “Soviet bloc.” As we look ahead to a series of events celebrating “1989,” Samuel Moyn’s post from December—urging us to think about connections between the rise of human rights and of “neoliberalism”—may thus prove timely because few events exemplify the coalescence of these two discourses more clearly than the end of the Cold War.
On one hand, “1989” meant an enormous boost for human rights: The collapse of the state-socialist regimes in Central Europe seemed to vindicate the so-called “dissidents”—embattled intellectuals who had spent the 1970s and 1980s in and out of prison, working unskilled jobs and drafting human rights petitions or learned essays on totalitarianism at night. The dissidents, to be sure, did not cause the collapse of Communism, but they did become the figureheads of the protest movements that toppled the regimes in Central Europe. The subsequent expansion of international human rights treaties, the democratization of many post-communist countries and their later EU accession all have dramatically increased the respect and protection of individual liberties in Europe and worldwide. Continue reading
You may have already noticed that from time to time we cross-post contributions of the Imperial & Global Forum. This is the excellent blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department of the University of Exeter, which comprises of one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK. Edited by Marc-William Palen the blog connects in a significant way historians working in this research field and offers a dynamic exploration of imperial history.
The human rights issue is meanwhile a familiar theme for the Western Christian Churches such as the Roman-Catholic and the Protestant Churches. After the problematic relation during the 18th and 19th century concerning the human rights affirmations of the American ‘Declaration of Independence’ (1776) and the French Revolution (1789 or 1791) the Roman Catholic Church succeeded to relax its attitude towards human rights and to assimilate the pattern in its own social ethics, of course underpinning it with theological and biblical argumentations in its attempt to de-secularize this discourse. The Protestant Churches demonstrate a broad and differential approach to the social, political and ethical function of human rights, despite their apparent congruity exhibited by the statements of the Lutheran or Reformed World Federations (1970) (as shown by Christopher Voigt-Goy in his previous post). Continue reading
Christianity has its own rather difficult history in relation to modern human rights. While reluctance to the ideas of ‘human rights’ and ‘human dignity’ dominated the theology of the main church bodies well into the 20th century, the situation drastically changed after 1945. Since the 1970’s, then, the debate on ‘human rights’ and ‘human dignity’ is at the core of theological ethics. The conference ‘Difficult Tolerance. The Dealings with Dissidents and Dissenters in the History of Christianity’ (‘Schwierige Toleranz. Der Umgang mit Andersdenkenden und Andersgläubigen in der Christentumsgeschichte’, held from 6th to 8th May 2010 in Fribourg/Switzerland) devoted a whole section to this significant shift. The attitudes to the notion of human rights and human dignity in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism are presented in the section of the resulting edited volume:
Charles Walton, Global History & Culture Center of the University of Warwick, is organizing an international Workshop on “Human Rights in Global History” on 29 January 2014.
The programme includes:
“Abolition of Slavery and International Rights for Humanitarian Reasons”
- Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz):
“Enforcing Humanity – The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention”
- Saul Dubow (University of London, Queen Mary):
“The Problem of Rights for Apartheid and Anti-Apartheid South Africa”
- Jenny Raflik-Grenouilleau (University of Cergy-Pontoise):
“Human Rights or Peoples’ Rights: Some Reflections”
- Charles Walton (University of Warwick):
“Rights, Reciprocity and the Politics of Obligation: 18th-20th Centuries”
For more detailed information see:
024 7652 3350 Email: Amy.Evans@warwick.ac.uk
Director, Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, University of Exeter
Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/
As the UN warns of an impending humanitarian disaster in the Central African Republic (CAR), what should we make of France’s recent back-to-back interventions in sub-Saharan Africa? Is there an echo in this of the clientalist politics pursued by France in Africa in the years after formal decolonization?
François Hollande, a Socialist president flagging in domestic opinion polls as France languishes in recession, has been credited with exceptional decisiveness in international affairs. The French President’s willingness to restore France’s role as a global policeman became apparent soon after he took office. He lent unflinching support to the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi, for which France, like Britain, contributed combat aircraft (although maintaining their strike capability was substantially down to the Americans). He made no secret of his disappointment at the successive refusals of London and Washington to endorse missile strikes against President Assad’s Syrian regime in the aftermath of its proven chemical weapons attacks. And French nuclear negotiators among the team that concluded November’s transitional deal with Iran were, it transpires, especially hawkish over monitoring and inspection regimes. Continue reading
Concerning my post on the research and discussion on the topic of the “Courts of Mixed Commission for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and International Human Rights Law” (see my post, 11/10/2013) I would like to point to my article Humanitäre Intervention und internationale Gerichtsbarkeit – Verflechtung militärischer und juristischer Implementierungsmaßnahmen zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts (“Humanitarian Intervention and International Jurisdiction. The Entanglement of Military and Juridical Enforcement in the 19th Century”), which was recently published in the journal: Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift, 72 (2013) Heft 1, p. 1-21.
In this essay I argue that the origins of the phenomena of international jurisdiction and humanitarian intervention can already be found in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The article combines both topics and shows that these two concepts are directly related to one another. Beginning with the international ban of the slave trade at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the analysis focuses on the corresponding implementation machinery created under the significant leadership of Great Britain. This machinery consisted of a hitherto unique combination of military and juridical measures - the naval anti-slave trade patrols and the “Courts of Mixed Commission” - which were both directly dependent on each other. The main argument of the article is that the geneses of the concept of international jurisdiction and humanitarian intervention are significantly entangled with each other and both of their origins lie in the fight against the transatlantic slave trade in the beginning of the nineteenth century.
If you are interested in reading my essay you will find it @:
Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter
Cross-posted from http://imperialglobalexeter.com/
As a child there were few experiences I looked forward to more than a trip up to London with my father to visit Hamleys toy store in the run-up to Christmas. Rather unusually perhaps, these visits to the capital were also occasionally marked by a stop at South Africa House to see the Anti-Apartheid picket of the embassy, organised to call for the release of ANC leader Nelson Mandela. We had moved to the UK from New Zealand a few years beforehand, and Dad would always use such occasions to regale me with proud memories of the protests which greeted South Africa’s notorious rugby tour in 1981. When the Springboks came to our home city of Hamilton, a key centre of Maori culture, crowd protests led to the abandonment of a test against the All Blacks. Another game became a farce when flour bombs and leaflets were scattered over the pitch from a light aeroplane.
Featuring Lidwien Kapteijns, “Test-firing the ‘new world order’ in Somalia: the US/UN military humanitarian intervention of 1992–1995″
Much ink has now been spilled on the historical origins of human rights. That debate will continue no doubt. I have surveyed the wreckage in a recent review essay (in English here, but for some similar thoughts auf Deutsch see here) but there is no doubt that problems large and small remain to resolve.
One of the biggest is how to formulate the historical relationship between humanitarianism and human rights. In my view, the best thing to say is that the former is old and the latter (conceptualized as the quest for an international regime pursued by transnational movements) is new, though humanitarianism certainly did create many norms originally framed outside an individualist or rights-based paradigm that contemporary movements have now put in one.
A new debate, however, has arisen, and to me it is much more interesting than continuing to scavenge among the early constituents of our human rights era. It is a debate — especially if along the lines of my book The Last Utopia you adopt my chronology – that engages the historical relationship between human rights and market fundamentalism.
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Kerstin von Lingen, Lecturer at the University of Heidelberg, has recently published a very readable online essay on the term of “Crimes against Humanity” and its historical development in the course of the twentieth century. You will find Kerstin’s essay in Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History published by the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam @:
Kerstin is the Coordinator of the Junior Research Group: Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1946-1954.