Discussion on “Human Rights and Decolonization”

Additionally to my last post concerning the publication of my book “Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence. The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria” and the related research on “Human Rights and Decolonization” I would like to point to the important publication of Roland Burke, Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights, Philadelphia 2010 (http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14717.html). In his book Roland Burke, Lecturer at La Trobe University Melbourne, analyzes the changing impact of decolonization on the UN human rights program. In showing the crucial importance of Third World influence on the international human rights agenda he offers an inspiring new perspective. You will find my review of the book at:



In October 2010 “humanity” (editor: Sam Moyn, Columbia University, New York), a peer-reviewed academic journal, started to publish research and reflections on human rights, humanitarianism, and development in the modern and contemporary world. I strongly recommend the journal and the related blog, which you can find at: http://www.humanityjournal.org/blog


In the first issue of “humanity” Jan Eckel, historian at the University of Freiburg, wrote an essay review on Roland’s book and the German version of my book “Menschenrechte im Schatten kolonialer Gewalt” (https://www.oldenbourg-verlag.de/wissenschaftsverlag/menschenrechte-im-schatten-kolonialer-gewalt/9783486588842), in which he raised some interesting questions. On the journal’s blog Roland and I used the opportunity to respond to Jan’s essay review and we started a fruitful discussion on the topic of “human rights and decolonization”.

If you are interested in following the discussion you will find



News: Publication of “Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence”

I am happy to let you know that my book “Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence. The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria” has been recently published by The University of Pennsylvanian Press (for more details see: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/15084.html).


My book, the English translation of my dissertation “Menschenrechte im Schatten kolonialer Gewalt” (originally published in German by Oldenbourg in 2009), analyzes the relationship between the emergence of human rights concepts after 1945 and the increasing radicalization of colonial violence. Based on previously inaccessible material from the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, this comparative study uses the Mau Mau War (1952–1956) and the Algerian War (1954–1962) as case studies to examine the policies of two major imperial powers, Britain and France. By analyzing the colonial states of emergency, counterinsurgency strategy, and the significance of humanitarian international law in both conflicts I show that the crimes on the part of Western powers that promoted human rights in other areas of the world were diametrically opposed to the growing global acceptance of freedom, equality, self-determination, and universal rights. In my book I want to demonstrate the mutually impacting histories of international human rights and decolonization.

I hope my book will find a broad international readership and I am looking forward to reactions and comments.