Conference: Does Human Rights Have a History?

Cross-posted from: https://humanrights.uchicago.edu/HistoryConference2015

About the Conference: Does human rights have a history? As late as 1998 not a single reference to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights had appeared in any article of the American Historical Review. But by 2006 the field had become prominent enough for the President of the American Historical Association to claim “we are all historians of human rights.” In this recent and very rapid development of the field, the fundamental premises of how we conceive of a history of human rights remain in flux and must be reconsidered:  when were “human rights” invented and what were the major stages of the evolution of their different elements? Rights talk emerged in early modern natural law theory, if not before, and played a famous role in early modern revolutions. But while humanitarian agendas sprouted throughout modern history, the international human rights regime began to take root only in the 1940s, and exploded to public prominence in the 1970s.

HistoryConferencePoster

Do we then tell the longue durée of human rights history as an evolutionary narrative or one of sharp disjunctures and discontinuities? There are also critical substantive issues that remain unresolved. What counts as human rights history? What rights at particular times and places have been seen as human rights and what has made them visible in those moments? What leads ordinary people to band together to found initiatives to monitor human rights violations? When and under what conditions have states propounded and conformed to crucial cosmopolitan norms? Are human rights a Western discourse or are they rooted in a broader array of geographical, gendered and cultural contexts?

This conference draws together leading historians of human rights working across time and space to address these urgent questions. In doing so it honors the contributions of Michael Geyer, Samuel N. Harper Professor of German and European History and the College and a founder of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago, to the field of human rights history and to the development of interdisciplinary studies of human rights thought and practice at the University of Chicago.

Faculty Organizers PFCHR Faculty Director Mark Philip Bradley, Jane Dailey, Emily Osborn, Amy Dru Stanley, and Tara Zahra

Additional Support The University of Chicago Library, Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies (CEERES), Center for International Studies (CIS), Department of Anthropology, and Department of History

Conference Schedule See the presenter biographies here.

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Wann ist Krieg gerechtfertigt? Das Problem des ‚bellum iustum‘ in historischer und systematischer Perspektive

Kolloquium der Professur für Neuere Geschichte (Westeuropa) an der

Helmut‐Schmidt‐Universität Hamburg am 23.‐24. März 2015, Hamburg

lm Mittelpunkt des Kolloquiums steht die Frage nach dem Spannungsverhältnis zwischen kriegsregulierenden Normen und bellizistischer Realität: lnwieweit haben die diversen moralischen bzw. rechtlichen Restriktionen erlaubter Kriegführung im Laufe der Geschichte das Ausmaß kriegerischer Gewalt reduziert? Hat die zunehmende Kriminalisierung des Krieges im 20. Jahrhundert diesen wirklich eingehegt oder lediglich neue Legitimationsstrategien entstehen lassen? Sind es am Ende vielleicht gar nicht so sehr normative Grundsätze als vielmehr ordnungspolitische, ökonomische u.a. Systemeigenschaften, welche den Grad binnen- bzw. zwischenstaatlicher Friedfertigkeit bestimmen?

Programm

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Conference on Decolonization and Cold War Implications on War Crimes Trials in Asia, 1945-1954

Conference Report: “Rethinking Justice? Decolonization, Cold War, and Asian War Crimes Trials after 1945”, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, Heidelberg (organizer: Dr. Kerstin von Lingenwww.transcultural-justice.uni-hd.de ), October 26-29, 2014

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The first day of the conference began on the evening of 26 October. Kerstin von Lingen, leader of JRG ‘Transcultural Justice’ and principal organizer of the conference, gave an introductory speech where she highlighted how war crimes trials in Asia offered a crucial legal, political, and moral-ideological watershed through which some of the initial contestations of decolonization and Cold War were played out. She argued that the trials should not be seen in isolation, but as part of this broader global politics, and also as an integral stage in the emergence of new universalistic norms of international humanitarian law. Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz) suggested that in spite of the emergence of these new norms, the traditional colonial powers (he took the specific examples of Britain and France) were reluctant to accept these standards, since their acceptance would have restricted the potential to use violent force to maintain domination in the colonies in Africa and Asia.

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Conference: The Laws of War and Military Justice from 1700 to the Present

Venue: German Historical Institute Paris

Date: 14-16 January 2015

Organisation: Steffen Prauser (IHA) and Hanna Sonkajärvi (Universidad del Pais Vasco)

Conference Programme:

Wednesday 14th January 2015

14h30                Welcome and Registration

Thomas Maissen (Director of the IHA), Hanna Sonkajärvi (Universidad del País Vasco), Steffen Prauser (IHA),

15h00                Military Justice in the Early Modern Period

Sandro Wiggerich (Universität Münster), Why Military Justice? – History of an Argument

PD Dr. Markus Meumann (Universität Erfurt), Searching for the Origins of the Conseils de Guerre in Seventeenth Century France

Discussion followed by a coffee break

16h30                Family, Gender, and Eighteenth Century Military Justice

Maria Sjöberg (Gothenburg University), Family Matters and Military Justice in Eighteenth Century Wars

Marianna Muravyeva (Oxford Brookes University), Creating a Model Citizen: Sex Crimes and the Military in Eighteenth-Century Russia

Discussion followed by a leg stretch

18h00                Laws of War in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Renaud Morieux (Cambridge University), The Laws of War and the Laws of the Prison. French and British Prisoners of War in the Eighteenth Century

Jakob Zollmann (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung),  N.N.

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Conference: Decolonization and the origins of ‘excessive’ violence

Decolonization and the origins of ‘excessive’ violence: Dutch military operations in Indonesia (1945-1950) in comparative perspective

10-12 December 2014 Leiden

Website

The conference is initiated by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden, the Netherlands, and deals with the Indonesian decolonization war of 1945-1949. The aim in particular is to explore the occurrence of ‘excessive’ violence or (war crimes) during this conflict. In Dutch historiography there has been limited attention for the violent nature of these closing years of Dutch colonialism, while the possibility of Dutch war crimes remains a sensitive and under-explored subject. By way of a comparative approach – both diachronically and synchronically –  the goal is to achieve a better understanding of the role ‘excessive’ violence played during this conflict. We want to discuss how historians can further investigate this important but neglected period of (Dutch) colonial history.

Conference Programme: Continue reading

Conference Report “Humanitarianism and Changing Cultures of Cooperation”

Christine Unrau, Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Centre for Global Cooperation
Research, Essen/Universität Köln
E-Mail: <unrau@gcr21.uni-due.de>

Humanitarianism – as a concept and as a practice – has become a major factor in world society: It channels an enormous amount of resources and serves as an argument for different kinds of interference into the “internal affairs” of a country. It is therefore a fertile testing ground for successful and unsuccessful cooperation across borders. At
the same time, humanitarian action is a form of cooperation that is rooted in cultures of gift-giving, even though they are sometimes exploited for strategic aims.

Against this backdrop, the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, in
cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities
(KWI), organized the conference “Humanitarianism and Changing Cultures
of Cooperation” from June 5-7, 2014. As suggested in the title, the aim
of the conference was to shed light both on humanitarianism, its
ambivalences and dilemmas, and its relevance for questions of global
cooperation.

Presenters came from the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway,
Germany and Uganda. Among the speakers and audience there were both
junior researchers and internationally renowned scholars, some of them
with a long experience both as academics and practitioners.

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Conference Panel “The Congress of Vienna and the Slave Trade – Religion, International Relations and Humanitarianism”

As described in one of my earlier posts the Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz successfully applied for the panel “The Congress of Vienna and the Slave Trade -Religion, International Relations and Humanitarianism” at the international conference “The Vienna Congress and Its Global Dimensions.”, which takes place from Thursday 18th to Monday 22nd September 2014 at the University of Vienna.

Here are the abstracts our today’s panel papers.

Introduction:

When evaluating the Congress of Vienna of 1814/15, historians traditionally concentrate on the negotiations to redraw the political map of Europe and on the establishment of an order meant to ensure peace on the continent in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. However, the implications of the congress went far beyond the European scope and were directly linked to manifold global issues such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade, one of the burning issues of the time. By signing the “Déclaration des 8 Cours, relative à l’Abolition Universelle de la Traite des Nègres” on 8 February 1815 the representatives of the major European powers established for the first time in history a humanitarian norm in international law. The aim of the proposed panel is to investigate the miscellaneous entanglements of this norm-setting process by focusing on the role of religion and religious actors, emerging humanitarianism, international relations and the impact of abolition on the process of Latin-American independence.

Slavetrade

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Conference: The Congress of Vienna and Its Global Dimension

On the occasion of the bicentenary of the Congress of Vienna, the Association of Latin American and Caribbean  Historians (ADHILAC) is organizing the international conference “The Congress of  Vienna and its Global Dimension”. The central aim of the conference is to investigate the various impacts of the congress of 1814/15 in different parts of the world on various entangled issues. The conference is kindly hosted by the  Institute of History and the Historical Studies Library at the University of  Vienna, and takes place from Thursday 18th to Monday 22nd September 2014. The conference languages are English and Spanish.

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For all further information on the conference see:

http://www.congresodeviena.at/

The Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz successfully applied for a conference panel on the topic “The Congress of Vienna and the Slave Trade -Religion, International Relations and Humanitarianism”. The aim of this panel is to investigate the importance of the international declaration on the abolition of the slave trade in its global perspective by focusing on the role of religion and religious actors, emerging humanitarianism, and international relations. Continue reading

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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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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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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CfP: Human Rights and Emergency Law in Independence Era Africa

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

Workshop “Human Rights in Global History”, University of Warwick

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.

Human Rights

The programme includes:

  • Olivier Grenouilleau (University of Paris IV-La Sorbonne):

“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:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/ghcc/events/?calendarItem=094d43d5419c9cbd01419ca483da02c5

 

024 7652 3350 Email: Amy.Evans@warwick.ac.uk

News: International Workshop “Histories of Humanitarianism: Religious, Philanthrophic, and Political Practices in the Modernizing World”

Sonya Michel (University of Maryland, College Park) and Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson (German Historical Institute Washington) are organizing an international workshop concerning the topic “Histories of Humanitarianism. Religious, Philanthrophic, and Political Practices in the Modernizing World”.

The conference will take place at the University of Maryland, College Park, and at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C. from March 7th to March 8th 2014. The deadline for applications is September 15th 2013.

For the Call for Papers and detailed information see:

http://ghi-dc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1379&Itemid=1197

International Research Network on Non-State Humanitarianism

The second workshop of the international research network „Non-state Humanitarianism: From Colonialism to Human Rights“ took place on 20-21th of June 2013 at the National University of Galway in Ireland. Matthew Hilton (University of Birmingham) and Kevin O’Sullivan (National University of Galway) convened this interdisciplinary encounter on the topic of „Sources and Uses of Humanitarian History“. For two days scholars and humanitarian practicioners discussed about the challenges of researching and writing humanitarian history from the colonial period until today.

For a presentation of the network, a report of the first workshop and the program of the second workshop, see the network’s homepage: http://nonstatehumanitarianism.com.