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’

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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

Call for Applications: Global Humanitarianism Research Academy 2018

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.

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GHRA fellow Sam de Schutter on “Disability, development and humanitarianism”

Cross-posted from: http://rethinkingdisability.net/disability-development-and-humanitarianism-the-global-humanitarianism-research-academy/

Today “the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war”, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs recently declared. This statement shows that humanitarianism is very much alive today, but that it apparently also has a history. But why am I writing about that on a blog related to the history of disability? That is because I participated in the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy (GHRA), organized by the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the University of Exeter, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Over the span of two weeks in July, spent both in Mainz and Geneva, this event brought together thirteen scholars from all over the world working on issues related to humanitarianism, international humanitarian law and human rights. I was lucky to be one of them, and got inspired to write this short blog about it.

So what was I doing there? My research is on the history of development interventions by UN agencies, aimed at people with disabilities in Tanzania and Kenya. I can certainly relate my subject to human rights, being part of a project that aims at unravelling how disability rose to the mainstream of international human rights discourses. But humanitarianism? I must admit that I did not have a clear idea about what humanitarianism entails before I joined this academy. During the two weeks of discussions and lectures however, it soon became clear that maybe no one has, or at least that different people have very different ideas about it. Certain themes and concepts nonetheless consistently appear throughout different writings on the history of humanitarianism, and I can certainly relate my own research to them: fostering sympathy across borders, mobilizing people through transnational organizations, lobbying for state interventions, and especially the relief of ‘the suffering of distant others’. It thus became clear that looking at my research through the lens of humanitarianism might be a fruitful exercise. I was however equally intrigued by the questions whether and what a disability perspective could contribute to the history of humanitarianism. It was mainly during the second week of the academy that I started to formulate a preliminary answer to these questions.
It is really this second week that sets the GHRA apart from any other, more traditional ‘summer school’. We spent this week in Geneva, mainly at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). There was a mixture of lectures by senior ICRC staff members and research time, spent either in the ICRC archives, the library or any of the other international archives that Geneva has to offer. Since the ICRC has only opened its archives until 1976, I focused on the collections held at the library and at the audiovisual archives. There, I discovered the history of the ICRC’s involvement with disability, a history that points us to the unique perspective disability can offer to the history of humanitarianism.

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