Conference: “Putting Human Rights to the Test Claims, Interventions, and Contestations since 1990”

International Conference in Cologne, May 16-17, 2019 at the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung in Cologne

Cross-posted from https://www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-39458

The concept of human rights has profoundly shaped national and international policies after the end of the Cold War and during the worldwide wave of democratization at the end of the 20th Century. However, this development does not necessarily denote an upward trend in human rights. Although states, NGOs and International Organizations enacted important political projects, formulated symbolic demands or implemented instruments of transnational regulation under the label of human rights, the principle of human rights was also heavily contested and strongly rejected. Emphatic hopes of a New World Order of global justice, that had been sparked by human rights in the early 90s, soon faded. Mass killings could not be stopped, authoritarian regimes remained in power, and humanitarian interventions presented drastic and problematic side effects.

Historical research on this complex development has only just begun, with empirical studies and overarching interpretations still lacking. Nevertheless, critical reflection on the history of human rights over the last quarter century is essential for a better understanding of our political presence. This observation provides the starting point for our conference, which brings together experts from different disciplines and world regions to advance research and analysis on the recent history of human rights. The conference neither wants to reproduce the triumphalism of the 1990s nor the narrative of decline which has become dominant over the past years. Instead, it aims to sharpen perspectives on the contradictory developments by including diverse groups of actors in its analysis: states, International Organizations, NGOs, politicians, scholars and experts.

Human rights did not have a breakthrough in the 1990s – they were already a well-established instrument of national and international policies. However, International Organizations, NGOs, politicians, scholars and experts attributed more and more significance to human rights. By doing so – this is the assumption underlying the conference – they tested the limits of human rights policies. A growing number of actors began framing their concerns as human rights issues. The universal claim of human rights received unprecedented support and was adopted in interventionist practices, crossing national borders. At the same time – and in many cases as a direct consequence – the idea of universally valid individual rights was met with heavy opposition and alternative concepts. Different academic disciplines made human rights a subject of their research, thereby impacting the practice of human rights activism and policies. Accordingly, the conference is split into four panels focusing on these developments.

Registration: https://fts.veranstaltungs-anmeldung.de/

Programme:

Thursday, May 16, 2019

10.00 a.m. –5.30 p.m.

Welcome: Norbert Frei
Keynote
: Jan Eckel

Panel I: Expansion
Knud Andresen
(Hamburg): Multinational Corporations after Apartheid in South Africa
Celia Donert (Liverpool): Women’s Rights as Human Rights after 1990
Paul van Trigt (Leiden): The Fall of Utopia and the Integration of Disability in International Law

Panel II: Intervention
Stephen Wertheim
(New York): Transformative Interventions: The Militarization of Humanitarianism in the United States
Markus Eikel (Den Haag): International Criminal Law and the Prosecution of Human Rights Violations
Barbara Keys (Melbourne): The Convention against Torture as a Tool of Intervention


7.00 p.m.

Dan Diner (Jerusalem): Public Lecture

Dinner

Friday, May 17, 2019

9.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.


Panel III: Contestations and Alternatives

Katrin Kinzelbach (Berlin): Asian Values versus Western Values – a False Dichotomy
Gudrun Krämer (Berlin): On Difference and Hierarchy: Islamic Debates about Equity and Equality
Averell Schmidt (Boston): Torture during the War on Terror: A Story of Contestation
Robert Horvath (Melbourne): Nationalising Human Rights in Russia

Panel IV: Human Rights and Scholarship
Annette Weinke
(Jena): History und Transitional Justice – A Troubled Relationship
Matthias Koenig (Göttingen): Between Distance and Engagement – Human Rights in the Social Sciences
Heike Krieger (Berlin): From Euphoria to Skepticism: Human Rights Discourses in International Law

Observer statements

Michael Stolleis (Frankfurt a.M.)

Klaus Dicke (Jena)

Carola Sachse (Wien)


CfP: Humanitarianism and the Remaking of International Law: History, Ideology, Practice, Technology

Cross-posted from: http://www.lpil.org/events/humanitarianism

Conference
Thu, May 31, 2018, 9:00am –
Fri, Jun 1, 2018, 5:00pm

Danang. Réfugiés s’étant organisés dans la cour de l’école. Photographer: Michel Schroeder, ICRC Archive

Call for Papers: Deadline 1 September 2017

The language and logic of humanitarianism occupy an increasingly central place in international law. Humanitarian reason has shaped the ideology, practice, and technologies of international law over the past century, including through the redescription of the laws of war as international humanitarian law, the framing of mass displacement and armed conflict as ‘humanitarian’ crises, the use of humanitarian justifications for intervention, occupation, and detention, and the representation of international law as an expression of the conscience of humanity.

For some, this trend is clearly positive – international law is reimagined as humanity’s law, humanity as the alpha and omega of international law. Yet critics have pointed to the dark side of these developments and of the humanitarian logic operating within international law, arguing that consolidation of the laws of war has served the interests of powerful groups and states at key moments of potential challenge to existing systems of rule, humanitarianism has been taken up as a language to rationalise the violence of certain forms of occupation, intervention, and warfare, international humanitarian law has displaced other more constraining forms of law as the world becomes imagined as a global battlefield, humanitarian NGOs have served as a fifth column that has enabled particular forms of social transformation and constrained others, and a supposedly impartial humanitarianism has displaced politics.

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CfA Rethinking the World Order: International Law and International Relations at the End of the First World War

The horrors of the Great War and the desire for peace shaped scholarship in International Law and International Relations (IR) during the late 1910s—a stimulating time for both disciplines. Scholars observed and analysed political events as they unfolded but also took an active part, as governmental advisors or diplomatic officials, in devising the new international order. The Paris Peace Conference and the subsequent birth of the League of Nations as well as the Permanent Court of International Justice served as testing grounds for new legal and political concepts. The end of the First World War was in many ways a milestone for both disciplines, prompting scholars to reflect on the consequences of the war on society, politics, and the world economy. How could another world war be avoided in the future? How could states be held accountable for violations of international law? What were the preconditions for peaceful international governance?  These questions led to pioneering research on issues such as arbitration, sanctions, revision of treaties, supra-national governance, disarmament, self-determination, migration, and the protection of minorities. At the same time, the study of International Law and IR also advanced in terms of methodology and teaching, including new professorships, journals, conferences and research centres.

A century later, it is a good moment to reflect upon disciplinary histories and revisit some of the theoretical and practical debates that shaped the period from 1914 to 1945. The workshop conveners are particularly (but not exclusively) interested in the following research questions:

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Book Review of Alexis Heraclides/Aada Dialla on “Humanitarian Intervention”

Cross-posted from:  hsozkult.de

Fabian Klose, Review of: Alexis Heraclides / Ada Dialla, Humanitarian intervention in the long nineteenth century. Setting the precedent, Series: Humanitarianism. Key debates and new approaches, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2015, 253 pp., ISBN 978 0 7190 8990 9, $ 110.

9780719089909

The issue of humanitarian intervention – the use of force to prevent and to end gross violations of humanitarian norms – is usually associated with the last decade of the twentieth century and described as a recent phenomenon emerging mainly after the end of the Cold War. However, over the last few years an intriguing discussion about the historical origins and the emergence of the concept has evolved. Recent studies provide first significant steps towards a genuine history of humanitarian intervention and convincingly sketch the genealogy of the concept’s long history, reaching back to the 18th and 19th centuries. With very few exceptions, most of these books focus on the European interventions to protect Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire during the long 19th century and present these case studies as pivotal for the evolution of the concept [1]. In their new book “Humanitarian intervention in the long nineteenth century. Setting the precedent”, published in Manchester University Press’s new series on “Humanitarianism”, Alexis Heraclides, Professor of International Relations at the Panteion University in Athens, and Ada Dialla, Assistant Professor of European History at the Athens School of Fine Arts, largely follow this track. Their choice of case studies also include the already well-studied interventions of the Great Powers in the Greek war of independence (1821–32), in Lebanon and Syria (1860–61) as well as the so-called “Bulgarian atrocities” during the Balkan crisis of 1875–78. Only the very brief chapter on the US intervention in the Cuban war of independence in 1898 adds an additional case not related to the Ottoman Empire.

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Conference Report “Humanity – A History of European Concepts in Practice” by Ceren Aygül

Report by Ceren Aygül, Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz

 

This interdisciplinary conference, organized by Fabian Klose (Mainz) and Mirjam Thulin (Mainz) on behalf of the members of IEG research group “Coping with Difference – Concepts of Humanity and Humanitarian Practices”, was held at the Leibniz Institute of European History (Mainz) from 8 to 10 October 2015. Prioritizing a comparative approach and focusing on the intersection of religious studies, international law and philosophy as well as on the history of humanitarianism and human rights, this conference set out to analyse the varieties and shifting meanings of the term “humanity” within the European context as well as in the context of Europe’s relations to other world regions. Keeping religious, colonial, social and gender aspects of the issue in mind, theologians and historians discussed the topic of “humanity” by focusing on such key issues as morality and human dignity, violence and international law, philanthropy, charity and solidarity.

2015-10-08 -10  Poster Humanity

The conference opened with a keynote lecture in which FRANCISCO BETHENCOURT (London) offered a historical review of principal aspects and categories of the division of humankind supposedly based on ethnicity, religion, gender, wealth and social status. He marked economic and political interests as the key motivations behind discriminatory actions and put an emphasis on ideological justifications of those distinctions. Questioning the universality of these divisions, he highlighted power relations as the basis of the categories and divisions, most of which displayed unstable patterns changed or recreated over time.

The first panel of the conference, dealing with morality and human dignity in early modern concepts, opened with MIHAI-D. GRIGORE’s (Mainz) presentation. Grigore concentrated on a transition in early modern political anthropology from humanitas Christiana, which viewed humanity as depending on an external or transcendental factor, i.e. God or the Church, to humanitas politica, which understood humanity as being inherent to every human being. Grigore traced this transition in the writings of Erasmus, which emphasises human nature as the property of individuals, not the Church, and a mutual goodwill intensified by education. MARIANO DELGADO (Fribourg) then presented his paper on the reflections of Spanish Catholic thinkers about the “nature” of American Indians in the 16th century. After outlining the dual genealogy of these thinkers’ ideas – the humanistic, enlightened thread stemming from the Stoa, considering the human race as one family, on the one side and Christian theology stressing man in the image of God on the other – Delgado presented two very different Christian thinkers, Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, showing how Sepúlveda justified European expansion in the Americas with the Indians’ supposed inferiority, and how Las Casas fought for the recognition of the Indians’ status as human beings. Delgado’s contribution was a reminder both of the variety of Christian thinking in the early modern period and of the strength of humanistic ideas even before the Enlightenment.

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New Report on Red Cross Fundamental Principles: A critical historical perspective

vienna

CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / L. Lehongre

For more than half a century, the Fundamental Principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality have underpinned the global humanitarian work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. But how have these principles evolved since their codification in 1965, and to what extent have they been adapted for modern day conflict and emergency contexts? Are certain principles more ‘valuable’ than others, and what can the successes, failures and controversies of the past teach us about the future of humanitarian work?

These are just some of the thought-provoking questions raised in a new report: Connecting with the Past: The Fundamental Principles in Critical Historical Perspective. The report, a collaboration between the ICRC, University of Exeter and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, reflects the debates and key points raised by eminent academics, historians and humanitarians who attended a symposium at ICRC headquarters in Geneva in September, 2015. The event and related report, examine five significant periods of history, starting with the founding of the Red Cross in 1865 and ending with the post 9/11 era and the many unprecedented and complex humanitarian challenges that have arisen throughout.

Shtadlanut and the Diplomacy of Jewish Questions

The 18th century saw the beginnings of the discourse on what we understand today as “minority” and “human rights” as well as “international law”. The same is true for the use of the term “diplomacy”. However, already in 1716, François de Callières (1645–1717), a minister of Louis XIV of France and member of the French academy, termed the practices of diplomacy avant la lettre perhaps in the most concise way in his treatise De la manière de négocier avec les souverains (“On the Manner of Negotiating with Princes”). De Callières advised counselors and ministers in his manual about self-control, discretion, and patience. He also recommended an interest-led negotiating style. A good mediator should always try to formulate his proposes according to the interests of his partner and should constantly point out the mutual advantages. Furthermore, the minister emphasized that the negotiating partners should always seek for a permanent, stable relationship.

So long before the concept of “diplomacy” existed and the discourse on minorities and human rights emerged, there were related practices that ensured the intercession for individuals and collectives in previous time periods, the strategic representation of interests and political negotiations. These practices of negotiating and intervening existed in various societies and they were also part of the Jewish culture.

The history of the Jews shows that negotiations with non-Jewish authorities as well as the establishment and consolidation of good relationships played an essential role. The permission of settlement and the location policy were the basis of Jewish life, particularly in medieval and early modern Europe. In the early modern period, the manner of negotiating with the non-Jewish authorities was so refined that a term based on the Aramaic root of “shadal” – meaning “to intercede” or “to make an effort” – was created: the so-called “Shtadlanut” (“intercession”). Continue reading

Völkerrechtsblog – Blog on International Law

I would like to draw your attention to the “Völkerrechts-Blog” (blog on International Law) that is online since April 2014.

Völkerrechtsblog

The “Völkerrechts-Blog” has been initiated by a group of young scholars coming from Germany and Switzerland with a background in political sciences and international relations researching in the field of public international law.

The bilingual blog (German/ English) is being supported by an advisory board of scholars from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Africa, and the United States.

Besides a “Link” list with essential links related to the subject and a “Services” section with posts on job vacancies, references to conferences or any other related announcements, you will find contributions to fundamental issues of international relations and law such as the role of language in international law, thought-provoking discussions, for example on theoretical and methodological perspectives, and not least responses to current developments and debates. Moreover, the contributions refer to topics such as the future of human rights and legal questions relating humanitarian interventions.

Enjoy reading and commenting!

Edited volume “Just and Unjust Military Intervention”

In the light of the ongoing political crisis concerning the Ukraine and Syria the issue of justifying military intervention is high on the agenda of international politics. Despite the recent intense political debate, the theoretical discussion about just and unjust military intervention is much older. It reaches back to the texts of classical European philosophers of the early modern period. Already thinkers such as Francisco Suarez, Alberico Gentili, Hugo Grotius and Emer de Vattel referred in their work to this crucial issue of international politics.

For that reason Stefano Recchia, Lecturer in International Relations at Cambridge University, and Jennifer M. Welsh, Professor of International Relations at the European University Institute, have recently published the interdisciplinary volume Just and Unjust Military Intervention. European Thinkers from Vitoria to Mill, Cambridge University Press 2013.

Just and Unjust Military Intervention

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