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Human Rights for and against Empire – Legal and Public Discourses in the Age of Decolonisation

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Against the background of an ongoing debate about the role of human rights in the age of decolonisation this essay approaches the issue from two different angles. It concentrates on the paradoxical situation that anti-colonial movements as well as colonial powers instrumentalised international human rights documents such as the Genocide Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the European Conventions on Human Rights for achieving their political goals. In combining legal and public discourses in a significant way both sides accused each other of gross human rights violations while at the same time presenting themselves as respecting and even guaranteeing fundamental human rights. Especially during the course of the wars of decolonisation after 1945 this phenomenon became obvious in various diplomatic debates at the United Nations and made universal rights a diplomatic pawn in international debates.

Affiliations: 1: Leibniz Institute of European History MainzGermany klose@ieg-mainz.de

10.1163/15718050-12340061
/content/journals/10.1163/15718050-12340061
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/content/journals/10.1163/15718050-12340061
2016-04-13
2017-12-11

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