EGO Article on Decolonization

The age of decolonization is of crucial importance for our understanding of today’s world. By dissolving colonial rule around the world this process led to the emergence of new sovereign states, thereby permanently changing international relations and international law. It is especially the third phase of decolonization which is the one most closely associated with the term “decolonization” in the present and which refers to the end of European colonial rule after 1945. The process of the dissolution of the European overseas empires had a profound effect on the course of international history during the 20th century. This process occurred relatively quickly given that colonial rule had existed in some cases for a number of centuries. Only after just 30 years, from 1945 to 1975, all the colonial empires had disappeared from the global map.

This transformation proceeded by no means linearly or according to a set pattern. There were considerable differences between the various world regions, with cases of peaceful transition as well as extremely violent wars of decolonization. The colonial policies and strategic aims of the colonial powers and the strength of the respective anticolonial movements were the decisive factors. Additionally the Cold War confrontation and the growing importance of international organizations such as the United Nations were central aspects of the international context in which the third phase of decolonization occurred and they had a decisive effect on that process.

Concerning this international context various contributions on hhr has already linked the dissolution of European colonial empires with the debates on universal human rights as well as humanitarianism. Continue reading

News: EGO and the history of humanitarianism/human rights

The Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz is publisher of EGO | European History Online (, a transcultural history of Europe on the Internet. EGO is product of international and interdisciplinary cooperation. The chief editors are the directors of the IEG, Irene Dingel and Johannes Paulmann (until September 2011: Heinz Duchhardt).

The project investigates processes of intercultural exchange in European history whose impact extended beyond state, national and cultural borders. EGO describes Europe as a constantly changing communicative space which witnessed extremely varied processes of interaction, circulation, overlapping and entanglement, of exchange and transfer. Within a wide range of themes EGO contains also contributions relating to the history of humanitarianism and human rights such as:

Abolitionism in the Atlantic World: The Organization and Interaction of Anti-Slavery Movements in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries by Birgitta Bader-Zaar:

Transnational Women’s Movements by Leila J. Rupp:

Prisoners and Detainees in War by Sibylle Scheipers:

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