51. Historikertag, Panel “Matters of Law or Religion? Human Rights, Ideology, and Religion in the Divided Germany and Europe after 1945”

Panel: “Matters of Law or Religion? Human Rights, Ideology, and Religion in the Divided Germany and Europe after 1945”

Organized by Dr. Sebastian Gehrig and Dr. Ned Richardson-Little

Human rights and international law garnered increasing popularity since the end of the Second World War. Since the end of the Cold War, the language of human rights has reached unprecedented social and political legitimacy. At the same time, however, the religious, legal, and ideological origins of competing ideas of human rights fell into oblivion. The secular and legal language of today’s human rights debates has helped obscuring their conflict-ridden history. Recent scholarship has thus emphasised the role of ideological conflicts, church and religious activism, and social movements in the emergence of human rights as a political language and part of international law. How did socialist human rights concepts develop alongside and in conflict with liberal-democratic ideas? What was the role of the churches, religious groups and activists in the negotiation of human rights language? How were human rights politically employed and by whom? Was the so-called human rights revolution of the 1970s much more triggered by Third World liberation ideology and decolonisation movements than Western governments? And finally: Did religious and ideological beliefs structure the evolution of human rights language and international law much more than legal thought? This section explores human rights concepts, their political language, and religious and ideological roots as an integral part of the Cold War in Germany and beyond.

 Presentations:

PD Dr. Katharina Kunter (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

Säkularisierungskitt und Antikriegswaffe? Christentum und Menschenrechte nach 1945

Dr. Ned Richardson-Little (University of Exeter)

Das Scheitern der Sozialistischen Menschenrechte

Dr. Sebastian Gehrig (University of Oxford)

Der Kampf um das menschenfreundlichere System: Menschenrechte, das geteilte Deutschland und die Vereinten Nationen nach 1945

Dr. Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institut für Europäische Geschichte Mainz)

Zur Idee der Humanitären Intervention im Zeichen des Kalten Krieges, 1945-1989

Commentary:

PD Dr. Annette Weinke (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)


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