Fourth GHRA, 09-20 July 2018

In about a month the fourth Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) will meet for one week of academic training at the University of Exeter before continuing with archival research at the ICRC Archives in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.


The GHRA received a huge amount of applications from an extremely talented group of scholars from more than twenty-one different countries around the world. The selection committee considered each proposal carefully and has selected these participants for the GHRA 2018:

Monique Beerli, University of California

Monique J. Beerli is a research associate at the Centre de recherches internationals and a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley. Her current project, Governing the Global Governors, received support from the Swiss National Science Foundation. In 2017, she received a double degree in political science from Sciences Po Paris and the University of Geneva. Her thesis, Saving the Saviors: An International Political Sociology of the Professionalization of Humanitarian Security, examined the genesis of security specialists within the humanitarian field and the effects of this professional transformation. Her work has been published in Global Governance, International Political Sociology, and International Peacekeeping.

Jennifer Carr, University of Glasgow

Jennifer Carr is a second-year doctoral researcher, writing a medical history of refugee camps at the University of Glasgow, where she is also postgraduate co-convenor for the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMnet). Her PhD, funded by a Wellcome Trust medical humanities doctoral scholarship, focuses on medical humanitarian action at times of emergency and the shift from crisis to development, with case studies of Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria and Palestinian camps in Jordan. She has recently completed a residency at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva, and am an associate of emergency assistance charity, UK-Med.

Continue reading

The ICRC and Switzerland 1919-1939: a “special relationship” examined

Cross-posted from https://imperialglobalexeter.com/2018/05/28/the-icrc-and-switzerland-1919-1939-a-special-relationship-examined

Thomas Brückner

Switzerland is uniquely positioned as host of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Swiss neutrality, Swiss humanitarian policy, and the Swiss flag are often associated with the Red Cross. As a result, a special relationship has developed between the country and the international humanitarian organization. My book, Hilfe schenken. Die Beziehung zwischen dem Internationalen Komitee vom Roten Kreuz und der Schweiz (NZZ Libro 2017), critically explores this relationship during the period between the two World Wars (1919-1939) using sources from the ICRC archives, the Federal Archives of Switzerland, and a wide range of publications and private archives in Switzerland.

At first sight, the interwar years were a calm period for the special relationship. Looking closer, however, exposes how the relationship between the ICRC and Switzerland changed and strengthened during this time, foreshadowing criticisms during Second World War that the axis between Bern and Geneva had become too close to guarantee truly neutral and independent humanitarian aid.Looking at ICRC missions in the field, for example, I found that the ICRC did not collaborate with Switzerland during the interwar years nearly as much as it had done during the First World War.[1] This also held true for the refugee crisis after the First World War, and for several conflicts during the 1930s.

However, Swiss foreign policy started relying more and more on its relationship with the ICRC. It was important for government officials to position Geneva and the ICRC as pillars of its neutrality and humanitarian policy in order to promote Geneva as the headquarters of the League of Nations.

There was also competition about competencies and patronage when it came to developing international humanitarian law. Switzerland showed a great interest and provided resources to the ICRC. Members of the ICRC were in close collaboration with Swiss officials to prepare a convention for the protection of prisoners of war and the revision of the Geneva Convention. In 1929, a conference held in Geneva completed this work and 33 states signed the conventions. The Swiss and the ICRC positions were strengthened in the texts.

Continue reading

30 Entries of the Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights

The Online Atlas on the History of Humanitarianism and Human Rights is jointly published by the Leibniz Institute of European History and the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter as part of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA). It is hosted by the Leibniz Institute of European History.
The Online Atlas provides readers with concise analytical information on key concepts, events, and people which shaped the development of modern humanitarianism and human rights.

The entries of the Online Atlas are written by the successive generations of fellows of the GHRA and other experts connected to the Research Academy. The entries describe particular historical moment as well as its consequences and wider meanings. Additional materials include a review of scholarly debates, further reading, and visual representations. The Online Atlas addresses a broader public. It is a valuable resource for those engaged in the field of humanitarian action and human rights as well as students and academics. It provides a reliable source of information and access to essential issues of the entangled world of humanitarianism across borders and historical epochs.

The project started in December 2015 with 10 entries written by the first participants of the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy and now reaches the number of 30 enties. Enjoy discovering the Online Atlas @ http://hhr-atlas.ieg-mainz.de/

Table of Contents

Continue reading

New Book: “Brutality in an Age of Human Rights” by Brian Drohan

Former GHRA fellow Brian Drohan has published his Dissertation:

Brutality in an Age of Human Rights
Activism and Counterinsurgency at the End of the British Empire, Cornell University Press 2018.

Brief book description by Cornell University Press:

“In Brutality in an Age of Human Rights, Brian Drohan demonstrates that British officials’ choices concerning counterinsurgency methods have long been deeply influenced or even redirected by the work of human rights activists. To reveal how that influence was manifested by military policies and practices, Drohan examines three British counterinsurgency campaigns—Cyprus (1955–1959), Aden (1963–1967), and the peak of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland (1969–1976). This book is enriched by Drohan’s use of a newly available collection of 1.2 million colonial-era files, International Committee of the Red Cross files, the extensive Troubles collection at Linen Hall Library in Belfast, and many other sources.

Drohan argues that when faced with human rights activism, British officials sought to evade, discredit, and deflect public criticism of their actions to avoid drawing attention to brutal counterinsurgency practices such as the use of torture during interrogation. Some of the topics discussed in the book, such as the use of violence against civilians, the desire to uphold human rights values while simultaneously employing brutal methods, and the dynamic of wars waged in the glare of the media, are of critical interest to scholars, lawyers, and government officials dealing with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those to come in the future.”

Congratulations Brian!

New book: “(s’)Aider pour survivre. Action humanitaire et neutralité suisse pendant la Première Guerre mondiale” by Cédric Cotter

Former GHRA fellow Cédric Cotter has just published his dissertation:

(s’)Aider pour survivre. Action humanitaire et neutralité suisse pendant la Première Guerre mondiale / Helping (oneself) to survive. Humanitarian action and Swiss neutrality during the First World War by Cédric Cotter

Neutrality and humanitarian action are two key-concepts of both Swiss identity and foreign policy. Their anchoring as typically Swiss characteristics is the result of a long maturation in which the First World War constitutes a pivotal moment. By mixing political and cultural history, this book aims at analyzing the interactions between neutrality and humanitarian action at three specific levels: the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Switzerland and its domestic policy and identity, Switzerland in a transnational approach. It shows how, during the First World War, charitable works moved from the status of a consequence of neutrality to that of an essential corollary to it.

The first part of the Book is devoted to the ICRC. Chapter 1 highlights the main challenges that the institution faced during the Great War and shows how this conflict is important for the history of humanitarianism on important topics: detention, reestablishment of family links, humanitarian diplomacy, promotion of law, coordination with Red Cross national societies, etc. The ICRC’s response to these challenges is addressed in chapter 2, where the meaning and use of the concept of “neutrality” are studied and put into perspective with the real attitude of the ICRC. Was the ICRC really neutral and impartial? Or did the sympathies of its committee with the Entente influence its policy?

The second part proposes a broader view on Switzerland. Chapter 3 first synthetizes the main actions accomplished by Switzerland during the First World War: initiatives from the Confederation, the Swiss Red Cross and private organizations as well as the interactions between all these humanitarian actors, including the ICRC. This chapter also analyzes the specific relation between the ICRC and the Confederation, with a special focus on Gustave Ador, ICRC president and, as on 1917, member of the Swiss Federal Council. Chapter 4 is one the most important parts of the book as it examines the reasons behind such a huge humanitarian commitment. It proposes to analyze this commitment through the spectrum of a “culture of neutrality” in which humanitarian action would give sense to the Swiss neutrality. Humanitarian commitment was not only motivated by compassion and many factors contributed to this trend: necessity to morally justify the neutrality, aims at mitigating the internal tensions between the various linguistics regions, contribution to the mobilization of minds, diversion from one’s own fear.

The third part integrates Switzerland into a more global framework. While chapter 5 analyzes the utility of humanitarian aid in the Swiss foreign policy, chapter 6 attempts to propose a comparative and transnational history of the interactions between neutrality and humanitarian action at that time. This approach uses evidence from the USA, Denmark, Sweden, Spain or the Netherlands. It tries to show whether Switzerland was a unique case or, on the contrary, typical. Chapter 7 eventually examines the interactions and circulations between these various stakeholders and highlights them with three case studies of humanitarian competition: Switzerland v.s. the Vatican, the ICRC as arbitrator of the Scandinavian competition and, last but not least, the ICRC v.s. the American Red Cross.

Congratulations Cédric!

“On Site, in Time”: Belfast by Fabian Klose

Regarding our new IEG open access publication “On site, in time” here is my article on the “Peace Lines” in Belfast

Cross-posted from:http://en.ieg-differences.eu/on-site-in-time/fabian-klose-belfast/

Beginning of “the Troubles” and the erection of the “Peace Lines” (constellations)
Over the course of 1969, domestic tensions in Northern Ireland, which had been growing for decades between the Protestant and Catholic parts of the population, escalated to the point of open violence. In August, various cities experienced several days of civil-war-like unrest. In Belfast, the hostile confessional groups engaged in veritable street battles in which residential districts were attacked and entire streets lined with houses were burned down. Nine people were killed, over 700 civilians and police were injured, and in Belfast alone nearly 400 houses were damaged by arson attacks.
Northern Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom. When the situation came to a head, the prime minister of Northern Ireland called on the central government in London for help. In response, British army units were sent to separate the parties to the conflict and bring the situation back under control. After arriving, the British soldiers began to put up barbed wire fences and checkpoints around the neighbourhoods controlled by the battling groups – first at the hot spot between the Catholic Falls Road and the Protestant Shankill Road. The idea was to prevent further attacks between Protestants and Catholics. General Sir Ian Freeland, the British troops’ general officer commanding, called these peace lines a “very, very temporary affair”, underscoring his position thus: “We will not have a Berlin Wall or anything like that in this city”.[1]

The Peace Line on Springmartin Road in Belfast-West

Yet over the course of the nearly thirty-year conflict in Northern Ireland, which is often referred to as “the Troubles”, the provisional fences were indeed replaced with permanent barriers: walls of concrete and steel, up to eight meters high and reinforced at the top with fencing, whose various sections ran for a total of 34 kilometres through front yards and residential streets. These so-called “peace lines” or “peace walls” put their stamp on the cityscape of Belfast, as they did in other Northern Irish cities like Derry/Londonderry, Portadown and Lurgan.[2] They became a visible expression of Northern Ireland’s population, divided by civil war.

Continue reading

Why Historians can be valuable Members of the Humanitarian Family

Cédric Cotter,
Law and Policy researcher, ICRC

When I was a young student in history and philosophy at the University of Geneva, I had never thought that one day I may work for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Yet it happened. While I was preparing my Master thesis, the protection division at the ICRC was looking for a young historian to carry out a research in their archives. I got hired for a one-year traineeship contract, which was extended by two shorter terms within the relations with arms carriers unit and at the archives division. This experience was a turning point in my career. As a consequence, I decided to write my PhD dissertation on the history of the ICRC, which was part of a research project dedicated to Switzerland during the First World War. I analyzed the interactions between humanitarian action and neutrality at that time.

In July 2015, during my research, I got the chance to participate in the very first Global Humanitarian Research Academy. This academy played a very positive role for me, as it was an occasion to meet other researchers working on the history of humanitarian action. Our various talks and debates made me think about other practices and ways of studying the past of humanitarian organizations. We shared different perspectives, some close and some more distant from mine; however all of them very interesting and challenging. It also gave me the opportunity to question my hypotheses and research results to more advanced scholars. They gave good advices that I then used during the writing process of my dissertation. Meeting others PhD students was useful in terms of networking of course. Beyond that, the excellent atmosphere created during the academy allowed us to maintain amical contacts as well. Still today, I regularly exchange with my fellows. At the end, this experience was really rewarding.

First GHRA 2015

Now, I am Law and Policy researcher for the Law and Policy Forum (obviously…) at the ICRC. One might wonder why a researcher with a background in history carries out research on issues related to International humanitarian law (IHL). My training as a historian helps me a lot in my work for several reasons.

I first use concrete skills developed during my dissertation and at the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy. On a daily basis, I need to find references on specific topics and read plenty of publications. Mountains of data are stored at the ICRC archives and my role is to exploit them by finding facts, evidences, eloquent examples, by synthetizing them and by enhancing our more than 150 years of experience, successes and failures. Being a PhD student is not only an intellectual adventure; it is also a full professional experience. While researching and writing my dissertation, I gained many soft skills too: project management, responsibility, flexibility, creativity, persistence, communication, teamwork ability, etc. Historians sometimes tend to forget that we have these skills sought in the private sector.

Continue reading

IEG Research Fellowships for Doctoral Students

The Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) awards
Research Fellowships for Doctoral Students
for a research stay in Mainz beginning in September 2018.

Profil
The IEG awards fellowships for international junior researchers in history, theology and other historical subjects. The IEG promotes research on the historical foundations of Europe from the early modern period to 1989/90, particularly regarding their religious, political and social dimensions. Projects dealing with European communication and transfer processes as well as projects focusing on questions related to theology, church history and intellectual history are particularly welcome.

What we offer
Funding is currently € 1,200/month. Research fellows live and work for between 6 and 12 months at the Institute in Mainz pursuing their individual Ph.D. project. Fellows will be assigned a mentor from the IEG’s academic staff.

Requirements
PhD theses continue to be supervised and are completed under the auspices of the fellows’ home universities. Fellows are required to register officially as residents in Mainz and to reside and take part in events at the Institute. The linguae academicae at the IEG are German and English; fellows should have a passive command of both and an active command of at least one of the two languages so as to participate in the discussions at the Institute.

Application Deadline

15 February 2018

For further information on the fellowship program and application see:
http://www.ieg-mainz.de/en/fellowships

Contact:
Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG)
Fellowship Programme | Barbara Müller, M. A.
Alte Universitaetsstraße 19 | 55116 Mainz – Germany
E-Mail: fellowship@ieg-mainz.de | Tel. 0049 (0)6131 – 39 39365
http://www.ieg-mainz.de/en

Reminder: Call for Application GHRA 2018 open until December 31, 2017

Drs Fabian Klose, Johannes Paulmann, and Andrew Thompson are pleased to announce that the Call for Applications for the fourth Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA) 2018 is now open, with a deadline of 31 December 2017.

Academy Leaders:
Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)
Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)
Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter) in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva)
and with support by the German Historical Institute London
Venues: University of Exeter & Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva
Dates: 9-20 July 2018
Deadline: 31 December 2017
Information at: http://ghra.ieg-mainz.de/, http://hhr.hypotheses.org/ and http://imperialglobalexeter.com/

The international GLOBAL HUMANITARIANISM | RESEARCH ACADEMY (GHRA) offers research training to PhD candidates and early postdocs. It combines academic sessions at the Imperial and Global History Centre at the University of Exeter and the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz with archival sessions at the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The Research Academy is for early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present.

Continue reading

Review of Mark Philip Bradley “The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the 20th Century”

My Review of Mark Philip Bradley, The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2016. 306 pp. $29.99 (hardcover).

“Once at the margins, human rights and its history are now at the intellectual vanguard of the historical profession.” (p. 4), Mark Philip Bradley trenchantly observes in the introduction of his new book The World Reimagined: Americans and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century. Indeed, over the last decade the history of human rights has crystalized as a prospering field of research and has been the subject of a lively and indeed hotly contested debate among international historians. A series of pioneering books has focused on the question of the take-off moment, when the language of global human rights gained a central importance in today’s world. In the context of this very stimulating debate one group of historians placed the emphasis on the 1940s as the crucial period, while others see the 1970s as the decisive breakthrough moment when the current meaning of human rights took shape.


In his excellently written monograph  Bradley also focusses on these two crucial decades. However, he does so in a rather different way, highlighting the complexity and ruptures of this development. He approaches the 1940s and 1970s as contrapuntal moments in order to present an alternative narrative of the role of the United States in the history of human rights over the course of the twentieth century as well as to offer a new way of writing global human rights history itself. By focusing on the significant interplay between the global and the local in the creation of American human rights vernaculars, the book hugely enriches our today’s understanding of universal human rights.

If you are interested in reading the whole review, you can find it in the recent issue of Diplomatic History.

Natalie Klein-Kelly, DOT TO DOT: Exploring humanitarian activities in the early Nineteenth Century

Natalie Klein-Kelly, Fellow of the GHRA 2017

DOT TO DOT: Exploring humanitarian activities in the early Nineteenth Century through tracing prehistories of the Red Cross Movement in Geneva

Histories of humanitarianism often cite two specific examples of nineteenth century humanitarianism: the latter parts of slave abolition movements and the founding of the Red Cross in Geneva in 1863. Besides these, particularly for the early part of the century, specific examples of humanitarian activities remain rare, with general references to philanthropic as well as social and religious reform movements prevailing. I would like to argue here that this is because humanitarian endeavours in the early Nineteenth Century in Europe and North America developed in local contexts, making it difficult and cumbersome to join the various ʿdotsʾ of humanitarian activities that existed. By linking such ʿdotsʾ – like doing children’s ʿdot to dotʾ drawing, hence the title of this blog post – a more precise picture of early humanitarianism might emerge. This blog post will demonstrate the benefits of such an approach though two concrete examples: the connections between the founding of the Red Cross Movement and an early foreign aid movement 40 years earlier, both in the locality of Geneva.

The first ʿgroup of dotsʾ concerns the philhellenic activities undertaken by private Geneva citizens in the course of the 1820s in support of the Greeks in their War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. To be precise, two different Geneva Greek Committees were set up, the first active in 1822-1823, and a second founded in 1825 and active until the Battle of Navarino in October 1827. The leading force in the latter Committee was the wealthy Geneva citizen, Jean-Gabriel Eynard (1772-1863), who had been to the Vienna Congress a few years earlier. He was joined by 26 others, including the writers and politicians J.C.L. Simonde de Sismondi (1773-1842) and Etienne Dumont (1759-1829). This second Committee used the donations collected in Geneva and elsewhere to send shiploads of food and ammunition to support the fighting Greeks. These shipments were accompanied by representatives of the Committee, including the doctor, Louis-André Gosse (1801-1873). To stress, the label ‘humanitarian’ only partly fits these foreign aid undertakings, particularly given the military support and the parallel developmental focus that can be found.

The second ʿdotsʾ is better known: the 1863 founding of the Red Cross Movement initiated by five Geneva citizens including Henri Dunant (1828-1910), Gustav Moynier (1826-1910), General Guillaume-Henri Dufour (1787-1875), and Dr Louis Appia (1818-1889). Having witnessed the suffering of wounded soldiers in the battle of Solferino in 1859, the Geneva businessman Dunant published a pamphlet calling for international action to ensure care and protection of wounded soldiers and their helpers. The young Geneva lawyer Moynier, an acquaintance of Dunant, took this idea to the Geneva Society for Public Utility, whose president at this time was Dufour. Here, a sub-committee to implement Dunant’s ideas was formed, leading to the first international conference held in Geneva in 1863.

While nearly 40 years apart, these two ʿgroups of dotsʾ have specific links. An early type of photograph exists of the two key protagonists, Eynard and Dunant, dating from the early 1850s.

Jean-Gabriel Eynard in the middle and Henry Dunant at the left, Bibliotheque de Geneve.

Eynard was an early enthusiast of daguerreotypes, taking a few hundred in the 1840s and 1850s, generally of his extended family. Dunant was a friend of Ernest de Traz (1830-1900), also on this daguerreotype, a great-nephew of Eynard. De Traz and Dunant commenced religious meetings of young men in the late 1840s, leading to the formation of the “Union Chrétienne des Jeunes Gens de Geneva” in the early 1850s. In addition, occasional correspondence between Dunant and Eynard’s wife, Anna Eynard Lullin (1793-1868) has survived, for example regarding her support for the 1863 Red Cross conference (BPU Ms 2109 f. 57, 179). Eynard’s son-in-law and nephew, Charles Eynard-Eynard (1808-1876) also corresponded with Dunant throughout the 1860s (ibid., f. 6, 288, 296 etc.). Charles Eynard appears to have been close to Dunant through their joint religious affiliation to the ‘Reveil’, the Geneva evangelist movement of the mid-century (BPU Ms fr 2115 H).

Continue reading

“On site, in time”: Helsinki by Bernhard Gißibl

Regarding our new IEG open access publication “On site, in time” here is Bernhard Gißibl’s article on Helsinki, in which he focuses on the CSCE process.

Cross-posted from: http://en.ieg-differences.eu/on-site-in-time/bernhard-gissibl-helsinki/

Conference diplomacy and the CSCE process (constellations)

In the history of international conference diplomacy, Helsinki symbolizes détente, cooperation, and human rights during the Cold War. The reason for this is the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), whose Final Act was signed in Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall on August 1st, 1975 by the leaders of 33 European states, the USA, and Canada.

Helmut Schmidt, Erich Honecker, Gerald Ford and Bruno Kreisky at the CSCE Summit in 1975 in Helsinki, Finland.

This initiated a dialogue and negotiation process on confidence-building measures and principles between the blocs of the Cold War, which was designated the CSCE or “Helsinki process”. At the same time, the conference location signifies the role that neutral and non-aligned countries played as catalysts, facilitators and – in the case of Finland – as intermediaries of the security conference.

Cold War and détente in Europe (differences)

The CSCE conference had its roots in the superpowers’ efforts to ease tensions in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. By the early 1970s, conditions had changed: NATO had adopted a new strategy of easing tensions (“détente”), while the Federal Republic of Germany had concluded the Eastern treaties and recognized the GDR. In July 1973, the foreign ministers of all 33 European countries (with the exception Albania), as well as the USA and Canada, were able to begin with preliminary negotiations on security and cooperation in Europe.

It is noteworthy that the conference proceedings recognized the full equality of all participating countries – irrespective of their membership to the blocs or the hegemony of the USA and the USSR as superpowers. Moreover, the conference was conducted based on the principle of consensus: Unanimity was not required for any resolutions; it was sufficient if no significant objections were made.

Between July 1973 and July 1975, diplomats and experts worked out the text of the Final Act.[1] It contained a set of principles concerning intergovernmental behaviour. Along with sovereignty and the mutual non-interference of the states, the list included in particular “respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.”

Continue reading

International Conference: Humanitarianism and Charity. Expressions of or Alternatives to Socioeconomic Rights?

Convenors: Fabian Klose (Mainz), Claudia Stein (Warwick), Charles Walton (Warwick)
Venue: Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) Mainz
Date: September 28 – 29, 2017
Information: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/ghcc/research/serhn

Socioeconomic rights have a long but poorly understood history. They are sometimes referred to as ‘second generation rights’, as twentieth-century additions to core civil and political rights stretching back to the European Enlightenment. Yet, socioeconomic rights – such as the right to work and to subsistence – emerged in the political struggles of the French Revolution and have been repeatedly argued for since then. Although most countries in the world have legally recognized them as ‘human rights’ by signing the United Nations’ 1966 International Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, they tend not to receive the same degree of legitimacy and visibility as civil and political rights.
At this international conference at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, as part of the Leverhulme International Network ‘Rights, Duties and the Politics of Obligation: Socioeconomic Rights in History’, international scholars discuss the history of socioeconomic rights from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. In particular, they focus on the complex relationship between a discourse on socioeconomic rights and debates about humanitarianism and charity thus seeking to connect these two important fields of research. In this context the leading questions are: How has humanitarianism and charity figured within the rhetoric of rights? How have the politics of obligation differed between voluntary and rights-based approaches to dealing with socio-economic crises and deprivations? How have states and NGO’s tried to balance providing for urgent needs with the more long-term development of a rights-based approach upheld by the sovereign state?

Program

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2:00pm-2:30pm Fabian Klose (Mainz), Claudia Stein (Warwick), and Charles Walton (Warwick), Welcome and Introduction

2:30-3:30pm Keynote Lecture I:
Michael Barnett (Washington), ‘Humanitarianism and Socio-Economic Rights: Look, But Don’t Touch’

Continue reading

New Publication: “Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention”

Norbert Frei, Daniel Stahl and Annette Weinke (eds.), Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention. Legitimizing the Use of Force since the 1970s, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2017.

The Balkan Wars of the 1990s, the Rwandan genocide and the Darfur conflict served as catalysts for debates which significantly changed the character and institutional frameworks of international politics and international law after the end of the Cold War. Humanitarian emergencies and grave human rights violations came to range among the most powerful arguments to justify military interventions abroad. In the course of these debates international norms and principles as those of sovereignty and the prohibition of the use of force were renegotiated.
This volume situates the history of post-Cold War humanitarian intervention within the larger history of the twentieth century by looking at political and cultural shifts that preceded the end of the bipolar world order. At the same time, it seeks to elucidate the specificities of interventionism during the 1990s – a moment when, for the first time, military interventions were being justified on the basis of the protection of human rights. The authors examine the role of a wide range of actors like governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental actors like NGOs, the media, and public intellectuals.

In my own contribution “Protecting Universal Rights through Intervention. International Law Debates from the 1930s to the 1980s” I examine how the protection of human rights  became linked with policies of military intervention and international law during the course of the twentieth century. Experts on international law from around the world played an important role in this development. As early as the 1930s and 1940s, prominent legal scholars such as André N. Mandelstam and Hersch Lauterpacht began to examine the idea of international intervention on behalf of human rights, arguing in favor of the development of a mechanism to protect these rights. In the mid-1960s, these debates were given fresh impetus by the adoption of two UN human rights covenants in 1966 and the first International Conference on Human Rights, held in Tehran as part of the 1968 International Year of Human Rights. Continue reading