History of Human Rights

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Reading Responses

Thursday August 30

Thursday September 6

Ishay, The History of Human Rights, Chapter One

In this Chapter, Ishay lays out the ancient intellectual underpinnings of human rights. She focuses on a varity of texts and figures from Greek and Roman thinkers to the Bible to the Quran to Buddha. She claims that all of these figures and texts "share basic views of a commong good" urging "protection for the poor, the disabled, the sick, and the powerless, praise good and impartial rulings, encourage some forms of social and economic justice, condemn arbitrary killing, offer moral prescriptions for wartime, and so forth" (60). To show the ancient relgious and secualr contributions to universalism, she highlights texts, such as the Book of History, to show "Chinese ethical teaching emphasized the sympathetic attitude of regarding all one's fellow men as having the same desires, and therfore the same rights, as one would like to enjoy oneself" (21). She also cites the Stoics who advanced the idea of the "citizen of the world" (23) or "a citizen of the whole universe, as it were of a single city" (25).

To show the ancient underpinnings of tolerance she especially highlights the concept of progressive justice. This notion can be seen in <a _fcknotitle="true" href="Hammurabi's Code">Hammurabi's Code</a>, which lays out the principle of "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" (28).She also roots the notion of liberty in anciet ideas of duties, such as "thou shall not kill and thou shall not steal, which can be translated into the right to life and property (30).

Ishay also finds early notions of economic and redistrubutive justice in ancient texts. For example, in Buddhist literature, the sage Nagarjuna suggested to royalty that "To dispel the suffering of children, the eldery, and the sick, please fix farm revenues for doctors and barbers throughout the land" (37).

While Ishay tries to uncover the intellectual foundations of human rights that Enlightenment thinkers build upon, she is quick to point out that "the notion of universality" carried "narrower meanings in Hammurabi's and Mohammad's times than in Jefferson's or Lenin's" (47). Hammurabi's Code gave slaved fewer rights than patricians; Hebrews ended slavery for Hebrew slaves but not foreign slaves; the Bible regarded women as property of the husband;Hindu texts advocated a caste system; and Confucius outlined hierarchical relationships to preserve social order (47-52).

Key Actors and Texts

  • Hammurabi's Code
  • The Bible
  • Confucius
  • Socrates
  • Plato
  • Quran
  • Cicero
  • Buddha

Tuesday September 11

Isya, The Human Rights Reader, pp. 9-23

The documents we read for this class highlight an important tension in early concepts of justice: whether principles of justice and hierarchies among people are compatible. Three of the documents we read (Hammurabi Code, Plato “In State and Individual,” and Aristotle, “On Justice and Political Constitutions) suggest that justice and particularism are easily reconcilable. The Hammurabi Code, for example, outlines a progressive notion of justice where punishment was based on the severity of the offense. But the Tailon principle of an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” was not universally applied in the Hammurabi Code. Justice of “an eye for an eye” was only reserved for free men. If a free man were to put “out the eye of a servant,” a much less severe punishment was waiting (10). For Plato, justice is the harmonious relationship among three distinct classes of people. In order to maintain justice, people needed to understand their role in society. Order, in other words, was central to Plato’s concept of justice. Artistotle, too, divided society into three classes: “one class is very rich, another very poor, and a third in a mean” (12). But rather than envisioning a concept of justice based on individuals’ predetermined status, Aristotle outlined a society ruled and dominated by the middle class because they “are most ready to follow rational principle” (12). Those outside the “mean” were unfit to rule because “he who greatly excels in beauty, strength, birth, or wealth, or on the other hand who is very poor, or very weak, or very much disgraced, finds it difficult to follow rational principle” (12).

Cicero and Epictectus outline justice differently, coming close to modern concepts of universalism. Cicero, for example, argued all humans were “members of the same commonwealth” (15). What brought them together was “the source from which they sprang”: God. In a line which could have easily come from the UN Declaration of Human Rights, he wrote “there is no difference in kind between man and man” (16). Epictectus frames his discussion of justice around the social categories of free and unfree. He clearly defines these categories based around the principle that only those with unrestrained wills are truly free. Nevertheless, he sets up these social categories to argue that one cannot claim authority over another by their social position. "When, therefore, it is in the power of another to restrain or to compel, say confidently that this man is not free" (20)

These philosophers, whether or not they think justice and particularism are compatible, rely on their own idea of the “state of nature” to support their claims. For Plato, people are born into social categories, thus a “man naturally fitted to be a shoemaker…should stick to his own trade (11).” For Cicero, justice exists independent of laws or customs. Justice exists in the “state of nature” and all people, because God gave them the right to reason, can understand justice. For Epictectus, all people “are furnished by nature with means for discovering the truth” (19) and sees “freedom to be something independent and self-determined” (20).


  • Hammurabi Code
    • The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest law codes known to man. It was authored by Hammurabi and has been dated back to 1772 B.C. It provides some of the earliest known instances of the idea of innocent until proven guilty, which is an important part of the law in American society today. Also the Code of Hammurabi provides us with the popular expression "An eye for an eye", which is from law 196 "If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out."
    • The Hammurabi Code identifies several different legal categories of people. Talion Law applies between two people of the same status, but if a free man attacks a servant or slave, their lower legal status means that the free man is not subject to the full "eye for an eye" punishment, and instead pays a fine.
    • Hammurabi places great emphasis on avoiding false accusations; someone who accuses a man of a crime and is proven wrong is subject to punishment himself.
    • The only mention of women in this selection of Hammurabi's Code is of high-priestesses or married women. This is seen in law 127, "If a man has caused a finger to be pointed at a high priestess or a married lady and does not substantiate his slanderous comments, they shall flog that man before the judges and shave half his head" (9)
  • Plato, "Justice in State and Individual"
    • Plato here recalls a lesson given by the Greek philosopher Socrates. Socrates attempts to define justice and express his opinion on how this justice may best be applied to the state. He asserts that man is naturally divided into three classes, "businessmen, Auxiliaries, Guardians" (10). With each class having their own job and role in society there is no need for them to mix. In fact Socrates states that "interference... does the greatest harm to our state." (10). A man's nature is naturally suited to his job and when this man tries to "interfere" with a job that is not suited to him (or outside his class) it is a kind of injustice. Socrates advocates "the ability to mind one's own business." (10)
    • This excerpt on the opinion of the state provides us with one of the first philosophical looks at what it means to be just as something fair different than fair. Unlike Hammurabi’s Code, which outlines equal and fair punishments, Socrates delves into what specific element it is in man that makes him just or unjust. This line of thought no only explains why it is that Hammurabi’s Code would not be seen as just today but also marks a human recognition of the complexity of justice.
    • Hammurabi is more harsh than the Idea of Justice gotten from Socrates. The code is more concerned with delivering justice, and Socrates tries to address the more complex issue of Justice it's self. Both sets of reading's are concentrated on figuring out how justice should be served and the methods in which we arrive at Justice. I think the one critical idea taken away from all the readings and these two in general is that justice in its truest sense is rather remarkably hard to figure out. These readings are crucial to historians in the sense that they show the earliest developments of human rights. its most remarkable how from even in humans earliest times a sense of human rights was innate.
  • Aristotle, "On Justice and Political Constitutions"
    • Aristotle focuses on the importance of a middle class in a society. It is the middle class, he says, that insures equality and a fair government by “prevent[ing] either of the extremes from being dominant” (13). Aristotle sees the middle class as role models compared to the rich and poor because he believes "Of these two the one sort grows into violent and great criminals, and the others into rogues and petty rascals (12)." Aristotle prefers having a democratic government over an oligarchy because they are safer and more permanent. He claims they are safer because in a democracy, middle class "is more numerous and has a greater share in the government"(13)If either the rich or the poor gain the majority than the government becomes either a democracy or an oligarchy. This excerpt is important from Aristotle because we see an early reflection on what it takes for a society as a collective being to be fair. By observing the need for a middle class, he is in fact observing that people are flawed, and generally look out for their best interest. This is why he then goes to explain what it takes for the individual to be virtuous. As he goes on to say that a virtuous man cannot be made up of excess external goods, he must be “highly cultivated in [his] mind and in [his] character” (14). And those who make laws must be aware of the fractures of life and the soul, to be able to take into consideration all “diversities of human mind and actions (15).
  • Cicero, The Laws
    • Cicero states that “Law is the highest reason, implanted by nature” and that reason, Law, Justice, and virtue are all interconnected, innate, universal traits in humans (15). Since these traits are innate, he argues that “we are born for Justice, and that right is based, not upon men’s opinions, but upon Nature” (16). His belief is that there is a universal code of conduct that we all innately know; the reason that societies differ in laws is that “bad habits and false beliefs…twist the weaker minds” (16). Cicero differentiates between whether or not the principles of justice are found in nature, and not in man. He associates honorable with natural, believing that if every man acted according to his natural virtue and realized that his purpose was to support the state and Justice for its own sake, then every man would be happy. His natural Justice stands above laws of the state because if “the principles of Justice were founded on the decrees of peoples, the edicts of princes, or the decisions of judges” then Justice would condone acts people know are dishonorable (17). His code of universal ethics is internally motivated.Cicero argues that if the principles of justice were set in place by man, then "Justice would sanction robbery, adultery, and the forgery of wills" (17). As opposed to Hammurabi’s Code which maintained order through strict external punishment, Cicero’s ethics is motivated by the idea that virtue is the inevitable result of fully developed reason and that there is an inherent right and wrong that is not determined by peoples or governments.
  • Epictectus, "Of Freedom"
    • Epictectus states how man is solely in control of his external stimuli and aside from that, man has little control over his life. In the large scheme of life, Epictectus says “That whatever is the will of God may be his will too; that whatever is not the will of God may not be his” (21). In Epictectus’s theory, man does not have control over his body, health or slaves (20). These aspects of life are ones that man must accept and does not have the power to change.This approach shows how man has little control and freedom over his daily life and therefore whether or not he is just is up to God. The aspects of life that man does have control over are aspects that neither have the ability to hinder or restraint man. Unlike Hammurabi’s Code, Epictectus does not provide rules for man to follow but rather just gives a basic outline and answers to questions that were asked in the year 135 B.C.E.

Important people

  • Epictetus

He was a Greek philosopher who believed men should concern themselves what they could control and not worry about what they could not influence. He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero. His beliefs were a combination of Stoicism and Cynicism. He was important to this reading because he argued for justice for all people and critiqued the government system when it was not functioning properly. He had a unique perspective in issues of justice because he had been a slave for many years.

Thursday September 13

Tuesday September 18

Ishay, The Human Rights Reader, PartII

There are three questions I want to be ready to discuss on Tuesday. You can also try to address them in this section before we meet. First, how do these writers define the state of nature and why is the state of nature important for their arguments? Second, for these writers, under what circumstances should people enter into a social contract and what duties does the state have to its citizens? Finally, how inclusive is this rights discourse?

Important Works

  • John Milton, On Censorship (1644)
  • John Locke, On the Separation of Religion and State (1689)
  • Votaire, Religion (1764)
    • Here Voltaire is led down a metaphorical path of instruction by his "genius." He is shown the massive slaughter credited to religious zealots and fanatics, so that he may weep. Next, he is introduced to many just leaders of antiquity: "all the sages who had sought truth and practiced virtue." His last visit is to an anonymous man that very much resembles Jesus. This man preaches not religion, with it's rules and guidelines and increasing body count, but God.
  • Thomas Hobbes, On the Inalienable Right to Life (1652)
  • Cesare Beccari, On Torture and the Death Penalty (1766)
    • Philosophers such as Robespierre and Kant thought that public executions preserved the peace of the community and restored social power to the people. Beccaria disagreed; he postulated that the death penalty, since it was a form of public entertainment, was not an effective deterrent of crime. Instead, he suggested that life in prison was far more effective, because life sentences provide continuous reinforcement that crimes will be punished. Public executions would also make the public associate murderers with entertainment, not disgust or anger at the crimes committed. Beccaria gave three examples of cases where public executions are justified: jeopardization of the social contract, threats to the nation's freedom, or anarchy. Beccaria's opinions on crime and the right to life became popular in the British colonies, especially with American politicians Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush. His ideas were later popularized by Voltaire, and led to Robespierre calling for France to repeal the death penalty in 1791. Beccari's other topic in the document is that torturing to produce a confession is wrong. If a man is innocent until proven guilty, then punishment (torture) before his guilt has been proven is wrong.
  • Gerard Winstanley, A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed of England (1649)
  • John Locke, On Property (1690)
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Limits of Property
  • Maximilien de Robespierre, On Property Rights (1793)
    • Robespierre stresses the importance of limitation on property rights, in order to ensure the validity of those rights for all. First of all, he defines property as "the right of each and every citizen to dispose of the portion of goods that is guaranteed to him by law." Key to his description of the points that should replace the notions of property already existent in his state's constitution is the notion that one person's right to his or her own property should not and cannot limit another's right to his or her own property. One can also not protect his or her own property in such a manner that it inhibits or works to prevent the right of another person to obtain and maintain his or her own property. According to Robespierre, property rights are limited to not obstructing the rights of others, and violations of this should therefore be illegal.
  • Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace (1625)
    • How inclusive is this rights discourse? Grotius seems to describe rights as applying to adult men. Though he doesn't lay this out specifically, he makes it clear in the exceptions he offers. First, the case of children (pg. 130, section XII), whose free choice can be restrained in a way men's cannot, even if the man is on the losing side in a war. Second, women are excluded; in Boo III Chapter IV, he describes rape of women as an offense against property more than the individual, which has been justified by the idea that "everything which belongs to the enemy should be at the disposition of the victor." He disagrees with this analysis, but not because rape is an assault on the personhood of women or their rights, but rather because it does not further the cause of the victor.
  • John Locke, On the Separation of Powers and Rebellion
    • Locke believes that people enter into social contracts entirely for the preservation of property. He also believes that legislative and executive powers need to be separate so one can make the laws, legislative, and one can in force them, executive , properly.
    • Locke argues that governments and people have to mutually agree on how to enforce boundaries so that the people are protected and the government does not abuse their authority. He argues that the foundation holding the agreement between people and their government is trust. Without trust, both groups are unable to hold their side of the agreement. It highlights the influence of public opinion on both the effectiveness of the government and changes which need to be made.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the General Will and Commercial Inequity
    • Rousseau outlines keys to a successful economic system and states that in order to have a successful nation, a nation must employ simple customs. Emphasis is placed on wholesome tastes, and a spirit that is martial but not ambitious (141). Rousseau encourages a more simplistic way of life where each man works with courage and unselfish. Nothing can be gained from a society where a small portion of citizens own the majority. Rosseau writes about simple needs saying, "Head and hearts and hands are what you need to keep yourselves happy and free; they are the makings of a strong state and a prosperous people" (142). He states that men are “naturally peaceful and timid” until placed into society which in turn corrupts men and makes them want to fight (141).
  • Adam Smith, On Free Trade and Mutual Advantage
  • Thomas Paine, On Just Revolutionary Wars, Commerce and Republicanism
    • In Paine’ essay, he outlines his beliefs on individual rights (natural and civil) and varying systems of governments. Paine begins his argument by expressing that all civil rights enacted by past generations should continue being secured for every new generation, not taken away because “natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights” (148). He believes individual rights are the most important possession given to people either by birth or their government. He continues his argument of the importance of individual rights by saying people are not happy if they’re not infringing on other people’s natural rights. Paine moves on to various forms of governments and their limitations on individual’s rights. individuals constrained by limiting governments, such as monarchies, destroy the natural/civil rights of the people. These right restrictions create friction between the government and its people. Paine believes if government removes its citizen’s rights, they have the right for revolution. Citizens should not be subjected by kings. Paine states, “Every citizen is a member of the Sovereignty, and, as such, can acknowledge no personal subjection; and his obedience can be only to the laws” (150). Again, here Paine reiterates his point that individuals should not be oppressed by one, but follow the laws that govern the nation. The only true form of government that Paine believes works is Republicanism. Republican government systems, such as the United States and France, provide acceptance of knowledge, representation, and the basic liberties for its citizens. To Paine this is a true progressive form of government that enables and protects the natural and civil rights for its citizens.
  • Maximilien de Robespierre, On Revolutionary Government (1793)
    • In this essay, Robespierre details what he believes the duties of government are to the citizens it serves. Here, he divides government into two categories: a constitutional government, and a revolutionary government. A constitutional government (by his definition), only acts to serve the most basic needs of the people. The principle concern of this form of government was to protect the people under it from the abuses of the state, and to extend full civil liberties to the people. The second form of government was a revolutionary government. The primary responsibility of a revolutionary government was to kill the enemies of the people. This type of government could only be sustained by fervent patriotism. Robespierre believed that this form of government was best because it was always prepared to face new and pressing dangers.
  • Immanual Kant, On Republican Peace and International Law
    • The Metaphysics of Mortals, 1797
      • In this paper, Kant identifies he “united will of the people” as the only legitimate source of legislative power in a society (153). The people, citizens of the society, have three primary rights: the right to only obey laws they have consented to, civil equality (unless there is a moral law that makes someone entitled to bind them in some way), and civil independence where their existence and living are not subject to someone else’s arbitrary whims. Kant qualifies these universal rights when it comes to voting, however, by differentiating between active and passive citizens—active being fit to vote and passive not.
      • He identifies fair taxation as a right of legitimate sovereigns, as well as the right to wage war under very restricted situations. He defines the complementary rights of peace as the right of nations to remain neutral, the right to a guaranteed maintenance of peace, and the right to form alliances. This last one relates to his belief that people have a right to try and form “a peaceful (if not exactly amicable) international community of all those of earth’s peoples who can enter into active relations with one another,” although he acknowledges that at present a congress of states is a voluntary gathering without the force of law and able to be dissolved at anytime (160). He addresses this gap between these philosophical ideas of morals and the contemporary situation of the world by saying “we must simple act as if [peace] could really come about which is perhaps impossible, and turn our efforts towards realizing it” (161). In this vein, he advocates slow reform over revolution since to him the methods used to attain peace matter as much as the peace itself since world peace might well be impossible.
  • Bartolome de Las Casas, In Defense of the Indians (1548)
    • Las Casas outlines what comprises a barbarian in this excerpt. However, instead of taking the argument of Indians as barbarians, he instead sees the Spanish as barbarians. This is evidenced when he says "indeed, our Spaniards are not unacquainted with a number of these practices. On the contrary, in the absolutely inhuman things they have done to those nations they have surpassed all other barbarians..." (Human Rights Reader 165).As the title suggests, Las Casas is defending the Indian population. In doing so, he uses Aristotle as well as the Bible to support his arguments. Las Casas was quite progressive when he correctly notes that "they [Indians] are not ignorant, inhuman, or bestial. Rather, long before they had heard the word Spaniard they had properly organized states, wisely ordered by excellent laws, religion, and custom" (Human Rights Reader, 166). This work is important to human rights because Las Casas is taking up the cause of people who are being discriminated and abused by other people. Las Casas is in a way, showing cultural relativism as well and bringing this issue of the Spaniard's treatment of the Indians to other Europeans attention.
  • Hugo Grotius, On the Right of the Stranger and the Refuge (1625)
    • This excerpt from Hugo Grotius is a good example of the types of issues that were starting to appear once the groundwork of human rights had been laid out. The importance of basic human rights such as “right to life, freedom of religion and opinion, and property rights” were being discussed and outlined in articles but they did not extend to everyone and were not universalized on a global level (History of Human Rights, 107). Grotius outlines an important human right that must be taken into account when nations begin to assert that human rights belong to every born man: if they are forced out of their country due to persecution or being denied what is considered human rights, do other countries have a duty to offer them refuge? Grotius says yes, “a permanent residence ought not to be denied to foreigners who, expelled from their homes, are seeking a refuge” (Human Rights Reader, 169). He also asserts that if a foreigner is passing through a country they ought to be allowed to stop for a limited amount of time. This excerpt is important because it begins to address issues that are bound to arise once people believe they have certain inalienable rights, but are denied them by their homeland. Nations cannot assert that all men have certain rights without taking some sort of responsibility for when they are denied.
  • Olaudah Equiano, On Memoirs of an African Slave (1789)
  • Adam Smith, On Slavery and Serfdom (1776)
    • Adam Smith’s work the Wealth of Nations was a truly pivotal work in understanding free trade. This work, as a whole would become the very basis of mercantilism economic thought. This work is important because it makes clear reasoning for interacting and depending on other individuals. This is critical in human rights because having a workable relationship with others in trade builds a relationship of trust and respect. Having this respect for others gains a humbleness and an enlightenment for their worth, existence, and partnership. Smith also states that the natural pride of man "makes him love to domineer...and he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen." (171) Even though Smith says that men prefer to have slaves or serfs to do work for them, it is not always financially beneficial because unless you're planting corn or tobacco you aren't going to be making enough money to provide for slaves and gain more slaves.
  • Maximilien de Robespierre, On the Propertyless and Male Suffrage (1791)
    • Maximilien believes that a basic, unmovable foundation must be placed to hold our sacred rights that belong to us as citizens. First being that "All men are born and remain free, and are equal at law." Second, "Sovereignty derives from the nation as a whole." (173). Thirdly, how law is expressed is the will of the people, and "All citizens have the right to contribute to its making, either directly or through their freely elected representatives." (173). Lastly, "All citizens are admissible to every public office." (173). He believes that all men born and raised in France are automatically members of the body of the French Nation, and that citizens may give citizens new laws, "but you may not deprive them of their citizenship" (174). Maximilien denounces the upholders of the system by pointing out the distinction they make between active and passive citizens. He announces that just because a citizen may be passive with his rights, does not mean he no longer holds those rights as a citizen.
  • Olympe de Gouges, the Declaration of the Rights of Woman (1790)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)
  • Admissions of Jews to Rights of Citizenship (1791)

Thursday September 20

Inventing Human Rights, Lynn Hunt

  • Hunt traces the history of human rights through its development in the Enlightenment to the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Rights. Hunt starts with a review of the language of rights, how 18th century thinkers talked about "human rights." She asserts that during the 18th century people became more self-contained. She then focuses on different art forms- epistolary novels, portraits depicting common people- that she believes fostered a sense of individuality, leading to a new interest in the rights of man. Hunt also looks at the eighteenth century reactions to torture and the death penalty. Enlightenment thinkers were becoming more disgusted with the regular use of torture on prisoners. This is most notable in the case of Jean Calas.

Important People

  • Thomas Jefferson
    • Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the greatest founding father. Besides negotiating the Louisiana Purchase he was also the founder of our declaration. Critical for human rights is the passage “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. This is also the very foundation of modern human rights, and is still a useful reference in international Human Rights today. The very standard by which the UN formed its doctrine was based in part on the beliefs held by Jefferson. The reading also mentions the work with Frances Doctrine which is equally important in French Doctrine
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    • Rousseau published a best-selling novel in 1761, called Julie. This story, about a young girl who gives up her true love in order to satisfy her authoritarian father, grasped the heart of all it’s readers. Written as an epistolary novel, it revolved around letters written by the main character. This type of novel allowed the reader to relate to the protagonist on a very personal level and consequently empathize with her despite her difference in class, ethnicity, or gender. Lynn Hunt argues that this novel was vital to the development of human rights because it “opened up its readers to a new form of empathy” (38). Empathy, she argues, was a crucial step towards human rights because people must first be capable of understanding the idea of equality, despite differences in class, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc.
  • Voltaire
  • Montesquieu
    • Montesquieu was an Englightenment Era philosopher who wrote the Spirit of the Laws in 1748. Montesquieu has a strong view, like other writers during the time about the true benefits of torture during the French Revolution. He claims that it is unnecessary in his statement, "but I hear the voice of nature crying out against me." (31) in which he implies that it is against peoples' autonomy to do such things.
  • Samuel Richardson
    • Richardson was the author of Pamela and Clarissa. Both of these novels are seen as helping readers learn to connect and relate with fictional characters and popularizing novels in the 1700's. Once readers made a connection with these characters, they could use this outside of the books they read in the world around them. This lead to controversy over novels and what they contributed to society, in both positive and negative ways.
  • Denis Diderot
    • Diderot was a French Enlightenment Era philosopher who co-founded and contributed to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert. Diderot believed that all human behavior is determined by heredity. He rejected the idea of progress and believed that just because man has more physical knowledge that does not mean that society is progressing.
  • Jean Calas
    • He provided an the case which was necessary to remove torture as a method of punishment. He was important because he refused to give in and retained his innocence even after multiple methods of being tortured. His unwillingness to give in was so unique that it inspired Voltaire to take up his case and demand a change in the judicial system and critique the officials involved in the case.
  • Cesare Beccaria
  • Pierre-Francoise Muyart
  • Jacques-Pierre Brissot
  • Dr. Benjamin Rush


  • Declaration of Independence (1776)
    • The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson,with his drafts edited by various people. A main portion of the Declaration includes a claim saying "we hold these truths to be self-evident". Hunt argues that if the rights people are endowed with are self-evident, why are we arguing over them to this day? This is an important document because "the equality, universality, and naturalness of rights gained direct political expression for the first time" (Hunt, 21). However, Jefferson is somewhat paradoxical because he is writing about independence and rights while still owning slaves. Also the Declaration holds no legal power, like the Bill of Rights, instead it just contains ideals and espouses the idea of natural rights and rights of man. Jefferson never uses the phrase human rights within this document.
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789)
    • The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was first drafted in January of 1789 by marquis de Lafayette. Later that year, after the French Revolution had begun, marquis de Lafayette's first draft was used to create the final declaration. The 40 deputies of the National Assembly began writing the final document on August 20 and voted to adopt it on August 27 of 1789. The final product included universalist language of putting the value of “every man” above that of the country, and included provisions of equality of all men before the law and the sovereignty of the nation (16). While the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was meant to be used as law, unlike the Declaration of independence, it fell short of protecting the rights of the people in practice. It claimed to safeguard rights, but was not able to stop the oppressive government known as the “Terror” from taking over, nor was it considered important enough to include it in later French constitutions (18). However, it was such a landmark document for its time that passages from the first article are repeated almost verbatim in the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (17).
  • Social Contract (1762)
  • Spirit of Laws (1748)
  • Julie, or the New Heloise (1761)
    • Written by Rousseau a year before his famous work more overtly linked to human rights, The Social Contract, this epistolary novel inspired by the medieval star-crossed lovers Abelard and Heloise went through 125 editions in forty years. The massively popular work, in conjunction with Pamela and Clarissa published ten and twenty years earlier, helped readers empathize with others by showing the internal lives of characters. Hunt presents novel reading as one of the primary ways people in the 18th century developed both empathy and autonomy since both depend on identification with other human beings.
  • Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1747-8)
    • Both Pamela and Clarissa are epistolary novels written by Samuel Richardson, and the reactions to them could show changes to ideas of empathy during the Enlightenment because it was easy to identify with the characters. By showing the importance of the inner self, the novels demonstrated that all people were in some way equal because they all had that "interiority." (48)
  • Elements of Criticism (1762)
    • This document is Lord Kames' attempt to describe the ideal state. He attempts to argue that the ideal state is something akin to a trance. This ideal state can be achieved through the use of fiction. Fiction allows the reader to be whisked off to a different reality, and experience and conceive every event as a passing reality (56). Kames believed that this being in this ideal state inherently made people more empathetic to one another. He thought that this ideal state would being about feelings of generosity and benevolence.
  • Treatise on Tolerance on the Occasion of the Death of Jean Calas
  • Crimes and Punishments (1764)
    • Written by a young Italian aristocrat named Cesare Beccacria. He argued against torture and cruel punishment. The most significant argument in his work was against the death penalty. Beccaccria believed in the ideals of democracy and the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” (81). He was not in support of absolute power rulers, religious power or privileges of having a title. In the truest sense, Beccacria supported democracy and the ideals that man should work towards what will create the greatest amount of benefits for society. His work was popularized and circulated in Diderot’s followers.
  • Philosophical Library of the Legislator, Politician, and Jurist (1782-5)
  • Dupaty's First Brief of 1786

Tuesday September 25

No Wiki Post Today

Thursday September 27

Human Rights and the Industrial Age, Ishay

Ishay argues that during the 19th century, the rise of capitalism forced socialism to the forefront of human rights efforts. Socialism recognized the rights of the hardworking and poor people, working past what had become a large class difference between the rich and the poor. Focusing on the first half of the century, Ishay talks about four major events that signified turning points in the “advance for a progressive political and social human rights agenda” (119). These events made up largely of revolts, resulted in the deaths of thousands. Although these revolutions may have appeared as failures at the time, they “spread almost simultaneously from city to city, from country to country,” raising awareness and dissatisfaction with social conditions (124).

The capitalist system during this century, is what allowed for the rise of socialism. Leading activists such as Marx and Engels began to question capitalism as well as the best way to achieve change. They argued that all the classes would have different views on morality that should not be “evaluated on equal footing” (134) and that “the means for achieving goals were not identical everywhere” (147). While some countries may be able to achieve rights peacefully, others may require a revolution and vice versa. By analyzing the capitalist system they realized that the ruling class would always have means of “exploiting the oppressed class” (146). This is why capitalism allowed for the rise of socialist ideas, as people were oppressed and could see that others were not, they began to question and revolt.

This century resulted in enormous advances. The majority of these human rights successes were directly derived from issues within capitalism. In England, beginning with the 1832 First Reform Bill that widened male suffrage, they were on their way to succeeding in universal suffrage by 1918. Originally these voting rights were dependent on who were landowners, this discriminated by class, giving the wealthy more power. Along the same notion, working class people achieved innumerable rights including the forbiddance of children under nine years old to work, and for anyone to work a greater than ten hour shift.

By the end of the 18th century, with the Enlightenment, human rights had only just been touched on. While some white landowning men were allowed to vote and many philosophers had spoken of the equality of all people, natural rights and liberty, none of it was really enforced. Most groups including women, slaves, religious groups and ethnic minorities did not have human rights privileges. With the rise of the 19th century, and the Industrial Age, people learned that a free market capitalist society and human rights did not so easily coincide. Although it did not naturally fall in place, capitalist society allowed not only for people to recognize the rights they were being denied but the opportunity to fight for them. With the emergence of rights for “women, oppressed nationalities, colonized peoples, blacks, homosexuals, and child welfare advocates” the century seemed to launching forward only to be “temporarily silenced by the drums of war” (172). With the rise of nationalism in anticipation of World War I, and “the emergence of competition among the great imperial powers,” human rights progress was hindered and wouldn’t pick back up again until the “second part of the twentieth century [with] a more active contribution to the drafting of the human rights agenda” (172).

Important Events

  • Defeat of Napoleon
    • The defeat of Napoleon at waterloo was a very crucial victory for the allied states. This in turn led to the formation of the congress of Vienna. Napoleons’ final defeat would lead to the eventual discussion of human rights and the abolishment of slavery. This event historically should be taken in the context of a victory of great importance in the war for freedom. Human rights should view waterloo as the waves of an ocean sweeping to make great change.
  • Congress of Vienna
    • The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states led by Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September 1814 to June 1815.The objective of the Congress was to settle the many problems that the French revolutionary wars had created. One main important result from the Congress of Vienna was that the political boundaries of France, the Duchy of Warsaw, the Netherlands, the states of the Rhine, the German province of Saxony, and various Italian territories were redrawn. Spheres of influence were also created and divided up at this time between Britain, France, Russia, and Austria.
  • Revolutions of 1830s
  • Ten Hours Act of 1847
    • During the 1830s, there were efforts made to improve the conditions of workers. One of the later acts was the Ten Hours Act, which was passed in England in 1847. In what Ishay calls the "greatest success" (138), the ten hours act limited work hours for all workers (138). This reduction in hours helped the working class tremendously.
  • Revolutions of 1848 including "Bloody June Days"
    • During the 1848 Revolutions, the French working class adopted socialism in an attempt to gain more rights. The working class wanted to have a political say. The city of Paris and Louis Blanc set up national workshops for the working class as a hope to alleviate the stress of the unemployed. The "Bloody June Days" were when workers banned together and fought against the government. Over ten thousand people were either killed or injured. The "Bloody June Days" was not effective in helping the working class to gain more rights. Louis Napoleon's second empire and a rise of the conservative regime came about as a results of the 1848 revolutions. While the working class was fighting to try and gain more right, they merely became more suppressed by the government.
  • First Reform Bill
    • The First Reform Bill of 1832 was used to extend universal manhood suffrage in England. It was important in giving more people a voice in their government and having the ability to influence the public policy. Unfortunately, the law was created as a way to appease the working class. It was important for human rights because it gave more men the ability to influence political policy regardless of their class. It forced the elites to consider resolving the claims of both the working class and the poor so they would not be voted out of power.
  • Second Reform Act 1867
  • Paris Commune of 1871
    • “Between March and May of 1871, French socialists and anarchists set up a revolutionary municipal council, the Paris Commune” (125). This brought power to the working class and challenged bourgeoisie, aristocrats and clergy power. The Commune demanded governmental control over prices and wages, and a list of rights, such as lower work hours, free public education for children, and housing rights. These demands came from a long history of troublesome working conditions and any sort of political participation that excluded the working class (124).
  • Hague Conference of 1872
  • American Civil war
    • Ishay describes the Civil War as one of the major turning points for human rights in the 19th century. She states that this event helped to catalyze what would end up becoming the modern vision of human rights (though this was delayed through the rise of nationalism) The Civil War represents a culmination of the anti-slavery movement in the United States. The victory of the North over the South also represented a major victor for the international abolitionist movement. However, Ishay also mentions the major after effects of the victory of the North, including the negative effects. One of these was the implementation of the legal system that would become Jim Crow. This system would involve multiple aspects meant to discriminated on African Americans, and was wide ranging. This system effectively blocked blacks from voting, and instituted a system of segregation.
  • Pass of Suffrage Bills between 1832-1918 in England
  • Supreme Court rules Jim Crow laws unconstitutional

Important People

  • G.W.F. Hegel
  • Robert Owen (1771-1858)
    • A Welsh thinker Ishay categorizes as one of the “precursors to socialism,” Owen advocated social harmony among classes with cooperative villages that would both provide for its inhabitants materially but also strengthen them physically and mentally as well. While he has socialist ideas, he was still a capitalist and believed that classes could achieve that social harmony within the framework of capitalism. He was also a strong opponent of excessive child labor, banning all employees under ten from his textile factory and sending all children who worked for him to some level of schooling. He promoted educational reform in the vein that Marx would later take up, that education should be universal and modernized. He was a transitional thinker between the liberal reformism before him and the socialist revolutionaries after.
  • Karl Marx
    • Though Marxism has been criticized for being disciplinary and repressive, Marx contributed significantly to the idea of economic rights. While others had argued that the middle class was best able to "ensure the evolution of history," Marx believed that the working class were in a unique position to imagine a more equal society because they had less to lose. He encouraged the proletariat to participate in government and gain political power, and argued that capitalism harms social rights. Gaining political rights would allow workers to insist that the promises of human rights actually be made available to everyone through greater focus on economic equality.
  • Freidrich Engels
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
    • He took promises to a whole new level. He described promises as a mixture of "responsibility" and "freedom." Promises are an aspect of human developments that other animals could not do.

Tuesday October 2

Ishay, The Human Rights Reader, pp.197-260

In Chapter 8, Ishay collects several documents challenging the liberal ideal of human rights as insufficient to actually ensuring liberty and equality for all members of society.

Friedrich Engels challenges the liberal idea of natural law as the basis for human rights in his piece “The Anti-Duhring.” Drawing on historical analysis to demonstrate that there has never been a universal idea of morality, he argues that any understanding of rights will be class-based, an idea which many socialist thinkers adopt and repeat. Engels believes that the desire for equality expressed by the proletariat is an extension of the political demands for equal rights made earlier by the bourgeois. Freedom is “a product of historical development,” and human history is a linear progression towards greater freedom, with equality through the abolishment of classes being a new step in that progress (203).

Other authors also draw on the idea of historical progress to defend a class-based analysis of rights such as the right to vote. Ferdinand Lassalle, in “On Universal and Direct Suffrage,” argues that the object of the state is to bring around progressive development -”in other words, to bring about the destiny of man,” by extending voting to those without property (207). The Chartists, in their petition for voting rights, emphasize that voting helps to protect the “life, liberty, and labor” of voters, invoking liberal ideas of rights; however, Marx critiques this perspective, arguing that universal suffrage will necessarily create a class-based challenge to the existing political system (204-205).

If most of the thinkers represented here find the existing society oppressive, they vary in approaches to fixing it. In addition to extending voting rights, Proudhon argues that “property,” as distinct from “possession,” should be abolished - he calls this a middle ground between communism and property, maintaining a liberal emphasis on individual rights while adding a historical and class-based analysis (209). However, other thinkers, such as the writers of the Manifesto of the Paris Commune and Louis Blanc, place much greater focus on the need for community action, either in structuring society (as in the Paris Commune) or in achieving political goals (for Blanc.) Marx argues that oppressive social structures can be challenged in part by extending the very idea of rights themselves; rights to a shorter work day, to organize, and to education could help ensure the intellectual and practical ability of the working class to participate politically by guaranteeing protection for their health and education.

In Chapter 9, Ishay addresses several different issues which caused disagreement among socialists debating how to best enact their new, economically grounded vision of human rights.

Addressing the issue of Free Trade, Marx again draws on historical analysis to argue that a world market and free trade between countries necessarily leads to economic and political inequality, as more centralized government and industry is needed to meet the demand of the growing market (227). However, he believes that the inequality both within and between nations created by Free Trade will “hasten the Social Revolution,” making it a good thing in the long run (229).

The question of whether political reform or violent revolution was necessary to bring about socialism troubled a variety of political thinkers. Marx initially was in favor of revolution, as expressed in The Communist Manifesto; he describes all of history as a series of class conflicts, and a revolution of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie as merely the next natural step in this process (231). However, he later suggests that countries with strong democratic norms might achieve socialism peacefully if workers can acquire political power with the existing system (232). Karl Kautsky also emphasises the importance of democracy in achieving socialism; he argues that Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” is a “state of affairs”, in which the proletariat have political power simply due to their greater numbers, and not an actual dictatorship of a small group or individual person, which would be contrary to socialist goals (244). Trotsky, in contrast, believes that violence is justified towards the goal of socialism, and that in fact revolution is the only way to overthrow class-based society (248).

The final question addressed is that or international organizations, and to what extent international cooperation is necessary to achieve socialist goals. Proudon argues for a federalist approach in The Principle of Federalism; replacing large, centralized states with small communities bound by specific agreements for cooperation, but largely self determining (254). Woolf, on the other hand, believes that treaties between individual states lack sufficient power, and argues for the creation of an international court to prevent war (259). Marx largely ignores political cooperation between states, but does believe that workers should organize across national borders, to support socialist activism around the world, because “the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence of different nations” - true freedom can only be achieved if by everyone, because capitalism tends to coerce other states into being more capitalist (257). However, all of the writers seem to agree that rights are not something which can just be guaranteed within national borders; human rights are universal, to be advocated for and protected across national lines.

In Chapter 10, Ishay address the question of who the socialist vision of human rights really applies to. Socialist thinkers greatly expanded claims for rights among marginalized groups. For example, poor working conditions drew attention to the need for rights for workers, especially child laborers, as described in Owen's "Address to the Inhabitants of Lanark," which lays out an ideal vision of education and care for children (262).

However, socialist thinkers were hesitant to focus on rights for individual groups, believing that full rights could only be achieved in a socialist revolution and that focusing on individual groups would be counter-productive to this goal. Marx argued that Jews could not claim emancipation while still part of an oppressive society (270). Several authors made similar claims about women's rights - while Bebel and Zetkin agreed that the right to vote was important for women, they argued that the right to vote in a capitalist society would primarily benefit the middle and upper classes, and that equality for lower class women was best achieved through socialism.


  • Friedrich Engels, The Anti-Duhring, 1878
  • Chartism, "On the Petition for Voting Rights," 1838
    • Chartism was one of the first Labour movements in the world. Their name derived from the People’s Charter of 1838, they focused largely on the right to vote (197). They were one of the first groups to write to Parliament demanding “equal representation, universal suffrage, annual parliaments, no property qualifications, and a secret vote by ballot” (205). They argue that universal suffrage is important because the goal of a society is the happiness of the people and this can not be achieved when those who are “called on to obey [the laws]” have had no power in “enact[ing], amend[ing], or repeal[ing] them” (204). This petition is particularly important because it is one of the first public demands for universal rights. Ishay argues that this movement, taking place in the beginning of the 19th century, would not be successful because the effort is not really universal; it is the product of whichever class is fighting, in this case the working class, and their movements are within their own best interests. This was the problem with the liberal vision of rights; that everyone was fighting for what was in their own best interest and proposing ideas that were applicable to everyone and considered everyone. This movement would be met with “enormous opposition” says Ishay because the dominant class during these time periods had the most power (197).
  • Karl Marx, "On Universal Suffrage," 1852
    • Karl Marx raises an interesting point in regards to the Chartism movement. While they do urge for universal suffrage, the problem arises with how the power will be distributed if they succeed. The majority of England is the working class and if they all get the right to vote then there will be a “political supremacy of the working class” (205). What results from this is that they will then be in the political power position that the wealthy were currently in, the tables will be flipped but equality will not ensue. The working class will pass laws that pertain specifically to them, and the rest of the population will be overridden.
  • Ferdinand Lassalle, "On Universal and Direct Suffrage," 1862
    • Ferdinand Lassalle argues that the working class must have direct voting rights. He points to the failed elections of 1848 and 1849 by saying "universal and direct suffrage is the only means which in the long run of itself corrects the mistakes to which its momentary wrong may lead" (206). Lassalle wants the working class to have voting rights and be able to work toward the goal of personal success. He says the lower classes do not have voting rights because of previous prejudices but these prejudices have no substantial argument or reason. Lassalle is encouraging of allowing lower classes to work towards personal dream, "the object of the State is precisely this, to place the individuals through this union in a position to attain to such objects, and reach such a stage of existence as they never could have reached as individuals; to make them capable of acquiring an amount of education, power, and freedom which would have been wholly unattainable by them as individuals" (207). Lassalle stresses the importance of the lower classes having voting rights and the chance to cultivate themselves into the best economical way.
  • Manifesto of the Paris Commune, 1871
  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What is Property? 1840
  • Louis Blanc, "On the Material Basis for Rights," 1848
  • Karl Marx, "On Limitation of the Working Day," 1866
    • Karl Marx makes very sound arguments in his work on the limitations of the working day. Historically there were no limits on how long someone could work or how old they had to be to work. This document sets out to answer the question How long can a working day be? This was revolutionary at the time its writing leading to child labor laws and fair work days for some. Although it did not solve all the problems of Labor it took great leaps in defining how long the work day was.
  • Karl Marx, "On Freedom of Association and Trade Unions," 1866
  • Karl Marx, "On Education for Both Sexes," 1866

Karl Marx outlines a system of education for working class children that will raise their worth above that of upper and middle class children. Marx begins with the idea that the future of the working class is dependent on how its children are raised, and it is the duty of society to act on behalf of children. To improve life for their children, working class parents should make use of general laws enforced by the state to reverse the powers used against the working classes. This can be achieved through a system of education. Marx believes that in a rational society, every person 9 years or older old (or should work to earn their meals, through a balance of physical labor and education. The number of hours of physical labor a child should be made to work varies by age; ages 9-12 should work 2 hours, ages 13-15 should work 4, and ages 16-17 should work 6 hours with a break of at least 1 hour. He then goes on to say that no parent or employer should be able to use child labor, unless the children they employ are also receiving an education consisting of 3 parts: mental, bodily, and technological. The bodily portion should consist of gymnastics and military training, and the technological portion should teach children the methods of production and the proper handling of tools. The level of training given to children should correspond to their age group. Marx believes that with the combination of "paid productive labor, mental education, bodily exercise and polytechnic training," the working class will rise far above the ranks of the high and middle class (220).

    • Marx proclaims that the "right of children and juvenile persons must be vindicated. They are unable to act for themselves. It is, therefore, the duty of society to act on their behalf" (219). So if adults neglect their responsibility to their children, it is their fault (220).
  • Karl Marx, "On National Education," 1869
    • Marx saw fault in the American system as it was too much localized and depending on what state you lived in, depended on the education students would receive (221). He saw a problem in taxation for schools as "taxation for schools was compulsory, but the attendance of children was not" (221). This would be unfair to people as their money would be not used the way they had hoped. Marx also felt that if any subject could be explained with a bias from either part that it should be omitted from a schools curriculum (221). Marx also felt that an education should be more than just make good soldiers like the Prussian model did, and a good education should be combined with "bodily labor, gymnastics, and technological training". (221).
  • Karl Marx, "On Social and Economic Rights," 1891
  • Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 1848
    • In this section of the Manifesto, Marx does lays out what he perceives to be the wrongdoings of the bourgeoisie. These wrongdoings are vast, and all-encompassing. Marx accuses the bourgeoisie of tearing apart the fabric upon which modern society was based. Marx asserts that the bourgeoisie was responsible for constantly reshaping and creating the means of production. Because of this reshaping, Marx asserts that the bourgeoisie have total control over all of society, and that they have abused that control (226). Marx also talks about his concept of historical materialism. Historical materialism (as Marx defined it) was the progression of modes of production. Marx thought of history a series of economic revolutions from prehistoric communism, to capitalism. Each time a new mode of production occurred, a momentous change in society followed it (277). In the historical context which the Manifesto was written, Marx believed that society was about to undergo one of the major shifts. This was because he believed that society would eventually reach a point at which the productive forces of society (i.e. the working class) would stop favoring the development of the bourgeoisie, and that society would end up bringing disorder to the bourgeoisie.
  • Karl Marx, "Speech on the Question of Free Trade," 1848
  • Karl Marx, Class Struggles in France, 1850
  • Karl Marx, "On the Possibility of a Non-Violent Revolution," 1872
  • Rosa Luxemburg, "On World War I and Imperialism," 1916
  • Karl Kautsky: "On Political Reform and Socialism," 1918
  • Leon Trotsky, Their Morals and Ours, 1938
  • Pierre-Joseph Prouhdon The Principle of Federalism, 1863
  • Karl Marx, "Inaugural Address of the Working Men's International Association," 1864
  • Leonard S. Woolf, "On International Government and International Court," 1916
    • Woolf argues that it is necessary to have an international governing body to hold the nations accountable for their actions and protect the working class against any abuse from their governments. He believes that it is essential for guaranteeing peace between the many different nations and giving a standard of rights given to different citizens. He proposes that the international body would help settle disputes,sovereignty would be surrendered to this body and economic sanctions would be imposed on the nations which did not comply with the rules and regulations of this international group. His ideas are significant because it influenced the framework for the League of Nations and the current United Nations today. It was considered the best option for preventing future wars such as the World War 1 which was going on when this document was written.
  • Robert Owen, "On Children," 1816
    • In an address to his workers ant his mills, Owen stressed that the Lanark Institution would provide education and diversion for the children. This would accomplish multiple goals. Firstly, it would enable mothers to “earn a better maintenance or support for your children” because they wouldn’t have to worry about them (262). Secondly, it would allow children to get a basic education without having to work. All children under ten were forbidden to work; children older than ten had limited work days and the chance to continue their education. Owen’s goal in this was to make his work “desirous of living in a more perfect state of society” (263). The children educated at places like Lanark would then go on to found these better societies. Owen treated education as having the dual goals of improving the individual and improving the society.
  • Karl Marx, On the Jewish Question, 1843
    • Karl Marx outlined his essay based off of Bruno Bauer’s argument on German Jewish emancipation from German Christians. Bauer believed that it was impossible for German Jews to gain emancipation from the state because of their beliefs. Marx argues the only method for complete political emancipation or the “universal rights of man” (267) is the elimination of religion. Bauer disagrees with statement about the abolishment of religion, arguing that taking away religious rights for man is taking away the rights of man. To Bauer, religion needed was necessary because “it has become the spirit of civility” (266). Marx uses famous documents, such as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1791, Article 10 to solidify his argument against Bauer’s belief in a separate secular Jewish state and the so called free exercise to religion for man. In Marx’s argument, he was defending Jewish rights despite being against religion. He believed in the equal rights of man and not the secularization of any social or political class.
  • Karl Marx, "Letter to President Abraham Lincoln on the Abolition of Slavery," 1865
  • August Bebel, Woman and Socialism, 1883
  • Vladimir I. Lenin, "On the Emancipation of Women," 1919
    • Lenin sees obvious problems with housework and how women are controlled by the duties of the home, rather than being able to pursue their own passions. He refers to women as "a domestic slave" (279) implying the control mentioned previously. Lenin says that "the real emancipation of women, real Communism, will begin only when a mass struggle...is started against this petty domestic economy, or rather when it is transformed on a mass scale into large-scale socialist economy" (280). Thus, Lenin sees the only way for women to truly be free is through Socialism, or at least some form of Communism. He advocates for what he already sees as the beginnings of Communism (the shoots) as leading to emancipation for women.
  • J. Henry Dunant, "On the Rights of Wounded Soldiers," 1876
    • Dunant here is advocating for the establishment of "an international relief society." (281) He appeals to the pathos of the audience by recounting the suffering of those wounded at the Battle of Solferino and insufficient number of people able to help these dying soldiers. He asserts that it is a duty of every patriotic citizen to help establish this society. However, Dunant does not discuss any of the practical issues preventing the creation of this society. Instead he relies on the empathy of the audience to spur them into action.

Thursday October 4

No Wiki Post Today

Tuesday October 9

Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost pgs. 1-149

Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost, takes an analytical look at the formation, and decision to make the Congo region a colony for Belgium. In this analysis, he looks at several of the major factors that were involved in the decision to colonize that region of Africa. In doing this, he discusses the major people, political factors, and historical events that would result in Belgium colonizing a continent, “as faceless , blank, empty, a place on the map waiting to be explored, one ever more frequently described by one phrase that says more about the sheer than the seen: the Dark Continent.” (16)

The first major way in which Hochschild does this is by presenting the important people involved in the decision to colonize. The first (and perhaps most important) is King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold II was the son of Leopold I. Leopold II was often described as cold and cautious. He would calculate his decisions, and take into account every possible outcome before he made them. “Stealth and dissembling would be his trusted devices, just as the fox relies on these qualities to survive in a world of hunters and larger beasts.” (35) This ability to be cautious (even though he wasn’t always cautious) would be one of his most important skills when it came to the colonization of the Dark Continent.

However, perhaps the reason that he is the most important figure in this is that he was one of the few people who had the ambition to colonize Africa, the political intelligence to do so, and the means. Leopold had enormous ambition, when it came to the belief that Belgium must have colonies. “The country he inherited seemed too small to hold him.” (36) It was out of this ambition that Leopold decided to colonize Africa. At some points in his life, it would almost seem as though Leopold was desperate to acquire a colony. However, this drive towards colonization was not driven solely by his ambition alone (although that was a major factor). Leopold knew that the times were changing in Europe. Every major power in Europe was developing a policy towards colonization. This fact meant that developing colonies was simply a matter of national prestige, and Leopold intended to go through with it. “Above all, Leopold told his man in London, “’I do not want to risk…losing a fine chance to secure for ourselves a slice of this magnificent African cake.’” (58)

Leopold also had the political skill to go through with colonizing the Congo. This can be demonstrated by the fact that he knew better than to call any expedition into the Congo an expedition that was intended with the direct purpose of colonization. Leopold would take underhanded methods, such as calling them humanitarian aid efforts.

The second major person in this series of events is Henry Morton Stanley. Stanley was the adventurer who would explore the Congo River all the way to its source, and would end up reporting on what he found back to King Leopold II. Up until the mid to late 19th century, the African continent was seen as largely not worth the trouble of exploring. The northern half was dominated by Islam, and desert. The middle and southern sections were dominated by impenetrable rainforest and savannah. Because of these factors, there had been no substantive exploration of the African continent, beyond what was done by slave traders. There had been attempts to find the source of the Congo River prior to Stanley’s expedition, however none of them had been even remotely successful. Stanley would be the first one to do so. He was also thought of as something of a tyrant. Stanley was known to drive his men to the breaking point, and often engaged in combat with the local population (it was through these engagements that he was able to report that the locals were simply no match for modern weaponry). Stanley would also often use underhanded tactics to con African tribes out of their land. Stanley had no respect for local traditions and believed that the European way was the best option.

Hochschild also discusses the international reaction to Belgian colonization of the Congo. One of the prominent examples of this presented in the text is George Washington Williams. Williams represented the dissenting view with regard to colonization and the effects that it had on the local population. He was a noted African American who would go on to spend six months in the Congo. As a result of this time, he would go on to publish his Open Letter to the King of Belgium stating what he viewed as problems in the Congo. In this, he lists such factors as the fact that Congo chiefs were often conned out of their land, Stanley was a tyrant, and that white troops were often shooting villagers. “White officers were shooting villagers, sometimes to capture their women, sometimes to intimidate the survivors into working as forced laborers, and sometimes for sport.” (111)

Important People

  • King Leopold II
    • No doubt one can say the depth of man is will and character. I believe this holds true for King Leopold the 2nd. Man well versed in travel and even more versed with the moral issue of slavery. Having a great impact on the advancement of some of the most necessary of all human rights including dignity and freedom; King Leopold the 2nd is an important topic of study in filed, that is in itself a long struggle, human rights. King Leopold should be remembered historically as a man that transformed the Congo into something more than just a jungle.
  • Henry Morton Stanley
    • Henry Morton Stanley is a very interesting person because he had such a troubled childhood but was afforded great opportunities. Although he never had a stable home, he knew he was interested in geography, and he was lucky enough to jump on a boat to New Orleans. He loved to tell stories and go on adventures and would become quite a celebrity for finding Livingstone. An explorer that went into Africa, that everyone lost contact with. Stanley found him and wrote all sorts of stories on the discovery and his adventures through Africa. Being scarred from his childhood, his adventuring offered him solace from relationships with people. Interestingly enough, Leopold II was very similar to Stanley it that he did not get along with women very well and was much more interested in discoveries. He had wanted a colony ever since he was sixteen and when he heard of Stanley, learned not only of the possibilities but the rhetoric he needed to use in order to get the expeditions going: “to set up a means of abolishing the slave trade, establishing peace among the chiefs, and procuring them just and impartial arbitration” (45).
    • Stanley was in fact one of the best explorers of his time period, and would explore all over Africa “forever measuring and tabulating things” before he would work for the International African Association that Leopold had worked to found(51). He was in fact, one of the first men to cross “the entire African continent, east to west” (48). The Congo, being a specific area of his expertise would be the area that he helped colonize and explore for Leopold. It would be their large claim of territory that would begin the insurgence of European interest in Africa.
    • After his expedition to Africa, Stanley agreed from King Leopold to "set up a base near the river's mouth and then construct a road around the rapids through rugged Crystal Mountains - a precursor to a railway" (63). He allowed Stanley to write a book about this experience, but King Leopold made it clear he could edit it. Stanley supervised construction of the new colony in the Congo, but fell sick to fever multiple times. King Leopold however insisted for him to continue his work and still stay in the Congo. "By the time Stanley and his officers were done, the blue flag with the gold star fluttered over the villages and territories, Stanley claimed, of more than 450 Congo basin chiefs" (71). This gave Leopold complete ownership of their land and a monopoly over these people, although he insisted "that he was opening Africa to free trade."
  • David Livingstone
    • David Livingstone, the man who Stanley had found after a long period of being missing, was a "physician, prospector, missionary, explorer, and at one point even a British consul" (28). Living stone had searched for almost thirty years preaching gospel, prospecting, denouncing slavery, finding the source of the Nile River, and had found Victoria Falls. He was proclaimed a hero and believed to be "the first white man to cross the continent coast to coast" (28).
  • Joseph Conrad (140-149)
    • Joseph Conrad, or Konrad Korzeniowski, was a Polish man who had dreamed as a child of exploring Africa. As an adult, he worked on the Congo river, completing navigational charts of the area. Before he left for Africa, he believed that Leopold's mission in Africa was a noble and just cause, and that the Africans needed to be civilized. By the time he had returned to Europe, however, his views on humanity had changed; his experiences in the Congo caused him to become disgusted with the behavior of Europeans in Africa. He then used his journal entries as the basis for his novel Heart of Darkness, with the main character, Marlow, as his alter ego. Many of the passages and events in the book were taken almost verbatim from Conrad's diary, including a scene of brutality towards laborers on Leopold's railway. Mr. Kurtz, the celebrated ivory-gathering agent that Marlow is sent to collect in the story was based on 4 separate people. The first three were Georges Antoine Klien, an ivory-gathering agent who dies aboard Conrad's ship; Major Edmund Barttelot, who lost his mind, became violent, and was murdered; and Arthur Hodister, who collected large amounts of ivory, maintained a harem of African women, and was eventually captured and beheaded by local warlords and ivory traders. While all 3 have similarities to Mr. Kurtz, the peson who most resembled him was Captain Leon Rom of the Force Publique, who like Kurtz was an intellectual, pursuing many of the same hobbies and supporting the "civilization" of the native peoples. It is the tendancies towards madness that both possess that is the more concrete evidence; both Kurtz and Rom collected and displayed shrunken heads. Rom did this 5 years after Conrad was stationed; it is possible that they met, but there is no evidence to confirm or deny this claim.
    • Because of European and American guilt, Heart of Darkness was disconnected from the events in Africa. Today it is treated as a representation of the views of the time period. The book maintains its strong anti-imperialistic tones no matter how it is read, although Marlow often praises the imperialism of England.
  • Henry Shelton Sanford
    • Henry Shelton Sanford was an American diplomat founded and is the namesake of Sanford, Florida. King Leopold used Sanford to influence Washington officials and President Chester A. Arthur when it came to dealings with Africa. In 1886 Sanford created the Sanford Exploring Expedition for discover and trade purposes in Africa primarily dealing with the area in the Congo. This project did not amount to much due to the fact that the Congolese state was becoming increasingly restrictive when it dealt with other foreign commercial entities. Sanford remained loyal to the Belgian king until 1889 when King Leopold changed his stance on the free trade issue within the Congo.
    • Henry Shelton Sanford was used a puppet for King Leopold to further his interests in the Congo by increasing support from United States government officials and was instrumental in encouraging the United States to recognize Congo as under Belgian authority. He shaped King Leopold's success abroad and served as a defense against many of King Leopold's critics. He independently financed some of the endeavors that King Leopold need to maintain his authority in the Congo. Some of his financial investments were used to fund King Leopold's mission in the Congo.
  • George Washington Williams
    • An African-American who was a union soldier in the Civil War, a pastor, the founder of a national black newspaper, a lawyer, and a black historian, Williams in 1890 wrote what Hochschild calls “a milestone in the literature of human rights and of investigative journalism”: An Open Letter to His Serene Majesty Leopold II, King of the Belgians and Sovereign of the Independent State of Congo, by Colonel the Honorable Geo. W. Williams, of the United States of America. It was the first open protest of the activities in the Congo, where Williams had come to learn about the land he hoped to convince American blacks to emigrate to. He was virtually the only visitor to point out that, despite Leonard crowing about abolishing slavery, the porters were essentially slaves. The Open Letter was widely distributed in Europe and America, largely to disbelief but there were some people that took seriously the accusations and they spread the story until the Congolese administration had to issue a 45 page report disputing Williams’ claims. Williams died before he could follow up on his attack, but earned himself the legacy as the only traveler out of a thousand to denounce the conditions of the Congo, with the Open Letter as the first document of the protests against the Belgian Congo.
  • President Chester A. Arthur
    • President Arthur became the U.S. president after President Garfield's assassination. Henry Shelton Sanford owned a plantation in Florida which President Arthur visited. Sanford was not there but Sanford was hoping to encourage Arthur to support Leopold's venture in the Congo. Leopold promised Arthur that Americans would be able to purchase land in the Congo and american goods would not be taxed. When Sanford met with Arthur, he brought a treaty that had been created by Leopold but Leopold had selectively edited the treaty and taken out all negative clauses such as monopoly clauses. Arthur was fooled by Leopold because he believed Leopold's good intentions. At a Congress meeting, Arthur read from Leopold's text and was in support of the his vision for the Congo.
  • J.W.B. Money
    • Similar to his ironic name, Money was a lawyer who wrote a book titled, Java; or how to Manage a Colony. This book is said to have inspired King Leopold's interest in colonization. The focus of book is on Java, and "the coffee, sugar, indigo, and tobacco plantations" (37) that were there. This is basically the concept of mercantilism, in that the colonies are supplying the raw goods, while the mother country, in this case, Holland, gets the profits and can put the money to use. The idea of forced labor is also discussed in Money's book, which Leopold supported (37).

Thursday October 11

King Leopold's Ghost 150-319

Hochschild chronicles the rise and fall of King Leopold II as a leader in the Congo. After describing King Leopold’s obsession of possessing a colony, Hochschild analyzes the toll that this obsession took on King Leopold’s family and his resources. King Leopold started running out of funds to maintain his obsession. He had funded his obsession through many lies and deceit only to find it all unraveling around him. King Leopold knew that there were many issues with his obsession so he tried to cover it up unsuccessfully. However, his efforts to cover up his imperialistic rationale behind taking over the Congo inevitably lead to his downfall. Hochschild argues that King Leopold was in over his head when he conquered the Congo but he was so caught up in his greed that he was unable to stop himself from continuing this mission. He uses the example of King Leopold to show that imperialistic endeavors start out as wanting to possess something to becoming an obsession that consumes every aspect of their being.

Hochschild demonstrates how imperialism emerges when leaders do not recognize sovereignty of nations which differ from their own style of government. King Leppold decided to take over the Congo without taking into account the populations already settled there because he did not think of them as people. Hochschild suggests that the very root of the imperialistic model is seeing other people as both inferior and the need to teach how to be civilized. It is apparent that being civilized was a mechanism used to subjugate and dominate nations on the premise of mentoring them into achieving their full potential. The rhetoric behind this is inherently saying that these people are inferior and depend on these nations to survive. As a result, many evil and despicable deeds are committed against the Congo peoples without any punishment because they were not considered crimes since there were no standards for the international community. However, there were many critics who decried the organizations created by King Leppold to be a pretext for slavery and abuse for the people of the Congo and European who were working alongside of them.

King Leppold represents the problematic history of having human rights but having no application of human rights or any way of holding nations accountable for their actions. Belgium funded and condoned slavery in the Congo and abusing its citizens without much resistance from other nations. The few critics out there who denounced his actions were quickly dismissed as heretics who did not appreciate the wonderful things that King Leppold was doing for the Congo. Conversely, there was one critic who King Leppold was unable to silence. This critic was Edmund Dene Morel, who had worked for the shipping industry used to carry slaves and rubber products from the Congo to Belgium. Edmund Dene Morel represents the activists who refuse to watch these human rights violations occur without any action. He was instrumental in exposing King Leppold for his imperialistic rationale for conquering the Congo, slavery in the Congo used to fund his rubber industry in Belgium using very detailed evidence from his time in the transportation industry. Hochschild uses E.D. Morel to demonstrate how important it is for individuals to stand against injustices and speak out, in order to create a change.

Hochschild uses E.D. Morel to be a foil to King Leopold displaying the actions of an individual have a tremendous impact on the future of a community. Due to King Leopold refusing to give up on his dream of colonization, a entire population was put into slavery and record numbers of people from the Congo were brutally murdered. He had set up a system of slavery and brutality, which could not easily be undone even when exposed to the public. Hochschild suggests that exposing injustice is only the beginning of rectifying the situation and it takes a short period to set up an unjust system but even longer to dismantle it.

Hochschild uses Belgium as a nation to argue how a leader is able to use the government’s resources to fund their own agenda that is contrary to the nation’s standards. He suggests that the lack of checks and balances in the Belgian system set the perfect conditions for King Leppold to enslave and abuse an entire nation. He cites this example as a reason for governments to challenge the rationale leaders cite for a particular action and force them to supply evidence that justify particular actions.

Important People

  • E.D. Morel
    • If ever there was a perfect foil to King Leopold II, it was E.D. Morel. Where Leopold was concerned with developing his colony (whatever the cost), Morel was concerned with protecting the rights of the people within that colony. Though he, like many people of his day, did not believe that there was anything inherently wrong with colonialism, he saw Leopold's colony as going too far in that the administration wasn't fair to the native people. To challenge this unfairness, (in part at least) he became an investigative journalist, documenting the atrocities of Leopold's colony. E.D. Morel teaches that one should always question what is going on, rather than accept it as truth. This can be demonstrated through the fact that he was able to figure out what was going on in the Congo, without ever visiting the colony prior. He was able to figure out that slavery was concurring in the Congo, simply through going through the cargo manifests of the company that he worked for. The level of injustice that he saw in this, would cause him to become a crusader for justice in the Congo, despite not being from a background that would have otherwise promoted such an attitude. In the second half of the book, Morel's campaign against forced labor in the Congo was furthered by his talent for shaping his message for the audience; he depicted Africans in the Congo as "Nobel Savages," a popular image of the time, and varied his emphasis from the problems with Leopold's monopolistic trade to Christian responsibility depending on his audience.
  • Roger Casement
    • Roger Casement should be remembered for his work in as a humanitarian, constantly reporting on the latest status of human rights at hotspots around the world. In the reading he takes on a very important role as a sound voice against what was going on in the Congo. This would be detrimental to Leopold’s vision of his personal kingdom. Eventually Casement's reporting led to the end of Leopold’s lavish lifestyle at the hands of those who served him. Leopold’s reign would end in 1909 roughly 54 years after his rule commenced. Casement helped to shine a floodlight on the troubling reign of King Leopold II, and the stain of his greed that was slow to wash away.
  • Reverend William Sheppard
    • Sheppard was the first black American minister to go into the Congo. He left in May of 1800 and served as one of the most important witnesses of the atrocities happening there. He set up a Presbyterian mission on the Kasai River. He is described as being a truly great person with “temper [that] is bright and even” (154). He was not only able to thrive amongst the natives but becoming friendly with them, truly uncovering what was going under the control of Leopold. At this point Leopold was collecting an extravagant amount of money from the harvesting of rubber, enslaving the Africans in the Congo for his endeavors. Sheppard traveled into the bush in 1899 and “found bloodstained ground, destroyed villages, and many bodies” (164). He, like others, wrote articles of his first hand accounts, uncovering Leopold’s work in the Congo and specifically drawing attention to the act of cutting off the hands and feet of natives. His discoveries are so vital because he was the first black missionary to go into the Congo and be able to relate to the people on a different level, allowing him to really dig into the problems. His accounts of the Congo would provide very useful in the uncovering of Leopold’s acts violating human rights.
    • His ability to get close to the natives is very important because he was able to discover things about them that many others weren't able to. He talks specifically about how the Kubans were great artists, in which they worked with all kinds of textiles, and had spiritual beliefs grounded in their ancestral myths and rituals. This is important because he was able to empathize with this people and really view them as equals, reflecting the importance of empathy to human rights as described by Hunt. And by releasing descriptions of all these practices and beliefs, the public within Europe and America would be able to draw these connections as well and prompt them to take action against Leopold. As Hochschild says: "his writings show an empathetic, respectful curiosity about African customs" (156).
  • Emile Vandervelde
    • Vandervelde was an and integral part of Beligian democratic socialism. He offered to defend Sheppard for bono in Sheppard's case in the Congo. Vandervelde's long oration in the courtroom that lasted over two hours was well received by all. All of the charges were dropped against Sheppard and he gained more fame in the Congo but back in Europe as well. Vandervelde's role as a defender was important but Hochschild says that Sheppard did not win because of Vandervelde's defense but because of political factors.
  • H.R. Fox
    • H. R. Fox Bourne was a secretary of the Aborigines Protection Society. (173)Fox was an opponent to Leopold, and could foil his plan, so in order for Leopold to avoid this crisis, The king perpetually "paid a visit to the office of the Times in London to try to persuade the newspaper not to run any of Fox's articles "
  • Charles Stokes
    • A flamboyant Irishman whose ivory trade was in direct competition with that of King Leopold. Stokes involvement in Africa dates back to 1878 when ge first arrived in Zanzibar. Eventually after trekking around Africa Stokes had a contingent of porters to provide guidance and assistance to many travelers and explorers coming to Africa. Stoke also got involved with many missionaries that came to Africa. He had "gone native," marrying an African woman and supposedly selling weapons to Afro-Arabs. He was hung for this act without trial, and it created huge waves throughout London and Germany; Stokes' base was German East Africa and the Congo was supposed to be open to German traders. This created the first real public uproar Leopold had to contend with in his control of the Congo-- the government ended up paying reparations to the British and German governments, but the damage was already done. This act caused the European press to not only start paying attention to the white population in the Congo, but to start playing attention to the atrocities against the natives. It lead to the creation of the rather ineffectual Commission for the Protection of the Natives in 1896. (174)
  • Sir Charles Dilke

Important Terms

  • Force Publique
    • The official state peacekeeping force. Between 1900 and 1908, its military posts grew from 183 to 313 in response to resistance by the warrior people the Belgian Congo tried to rule. It suppressed more than a dozen rebellions during Leopold’s rule, some of which lasted for decades. These rebellions were “the precursors to the anticolonial guerilla wars that shook central and southern Africa starting in the 1960s” (129). The Force Publique used Africans as the ordinary soldiers, often conscripted, badly paid, badly fed, and quickly punished. Even after Leopold gave the colony to Belgium, the Force remained essentially unchanged and was in the Congo until its independence in 1960, only a year after the Force “bloodily suppressed” mass demonstrations in Leopoldville (301).
  • Kuba Kingdom (p.157-158; 260-265)
    • An African tribe in Congo. Although they were part of Leopold's territory, their location and practices kept them isolated from European influence. Rev. Sheppard was the first outsider in the Kuban town of Ifuca. Sheppard wrote of the Kuba, giving a well-documented account of their culture before the capital was raided by Leopold's forces, who exploited the land for its rubber. Like many other African tribes, the Kuba unsuccessfully rebelled against the rubber trade. Rev. Sheppard published a letter blaming the fall of the Kuba on rubber trade and European interference. Soon afterward, the visiting British vice consul, Wilfred Thesiger, wrote a concurring piece. The rubber company, Compagnie du Kasai, filed for libel, and the judge declared them guilty.
  • Anglo Belgian Indian Rubber (A.B.I.R.)
    • Based in the Congo, the A.B.I.R. employed a large number of Congo natives. This labor was exploitative and basically slavery. Rubber is a sticky sap and a hard thing to harvest, and thus is very labor intensive. The A.B.I.R. often used techniques such as taking women hostages and using violence to reach the quotas. As rubber was in high demand, the profits were enormous, which made the ABIR continue to operate in the Congo despite the maltreatment of natives. Also, the rubber was readily available in the wild, so required no farming skills. This rubber industry helps to make the Congo the most profitable colony possible even though the people of the Congo were mistreated. (Hochschild, 160-163).
  • Elder Dempster
    • Elder Dempster is a British shipping firm that held exclusive freight contracts for Leopold II to transport his shipping goods between Belgium and the Congo. The freighting company helps Leopold II export Congo’s good, such as rubber and ivory into Belgium, while only importing firearms into the Congo: “Of the imports going into the Congo, something like 80% consisted of articles which were remote from trade purposes. Yet, the Congo was exporting increasing quantities of rubber and ivory for which, on the face of the import statistics, the natives were getting nothing or next to nothing”(180). E.D. Morel, an ex-clerk for the firm, observed the unbalance between Belgium and the Congo’s imports and exports and determines Elder Dempster aided in Leopold II’s widespread slavery.

Thursday October 18

Ishay, The History of Human Rights, pp.173-243

In this chapter, Ishay lays out the advances and setbacks in human rights in the first half of the twentieth century. This time period held the greatest modern failures of human rights and internationalism in the forms of genocides and the World Wars, but it also featured a massive increase in the scale of worldwide efforts to promote human rights as a response to those atrocities. Throughout this chapter, Ishay examines the primary “social cataclysms” that shaped human rights: the end of empire, the increasing calls for self-determination from colonies and minority groups, and the institutionalizing of human rights (175).

This period of the third generation of human rights is where one of Ishay’s historical controversy’s of human rights take prominence, the dilemma of universalist rights versus cultural and national rights, a debate that shaped much of the twentieth century. The right to a homeland emerged as a pivotal human rights issue, but vague legal codification of self-determination did not articulate how self-determination was to be realized or what to do when one group’s claim conflicted with another’s. Before World War I, nationalist sentiment reached a high, especially in Eastern and Central Europe. In general, Communists disagreed with the fervor. Self-determinism wasn’t an absolute right but a stepping stone towards universal rights.

After World War I, Europeans applied a double standard, favoring independence of nationalities in the Balkans and ignoring it in the colonies. The new League of Nations did not promote rights of colonized but excluded some nations from participating, placed them under “a system of mandates administered by the victorious colonial powers,” and stipulated that each European power was “responsible for ensuring racial and religious impartiality in the territories under its supervision,” a method promoting social human rights ignoring a political one (188). Within Europe, emerging fascist parties in Germany, Italy, and Spain, exploited their nations’ feelings after the devastation of World War I of “disappointment, a sense of unjust victimization, and the desire to overcome their perceived social and economic disadvantage” (189).

Like the League of Nations before it, the United Nations quickly disregarded its founding principles as the powerful nations sought to maintain their empires. Decolonization started first in India, which gained independence from Britain in 1945. With the exception of India, British colonies gained their independence easier than the colonies of the French and Dutch, both of whom fought long bloody wars to keep their territories. The same was true in Africa, where decolonization process started later because of long shift from allegiance to one’s ethnic group to nationhood aspirations was hampered by the arbitrary national borders drawn by colonial powers with no reference to African ethnic groups. These former colonies became to associate cultural rights with the right self-determination, as codified in Article 27 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article I of 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, and 1986 African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, affirming cultural rights did not clarify how to implement them. With cultural rights, there is always the rest that nations will use them to justify restricting rights rather than expanding them.

While the scope of the advancement of human rights expanded during the first half of the century, the Cold War paralyzed the international progress. The Marshall Plan, the foundation of the United Nations, and the rise of Western welfare states represented steps forward in international human rights, but U.S. and Soviet Union abandoned human rights ideals in favor of foreign policy based on realpolitik. The polarizing politics of the Cold War hampered self-determinism as the United States and the USSR would intervene in foreign nations’ politics to their personal benefit. Additionally, the promotion of self-determinism created conflicts when groups’ claims conflicted, as was the case with the establishment of the state of Israel. This period, however, did result in the abolition of all slave trade, vast improvement in worker’s rights in industrialized states, improvement in the status of women, greater recognition of children’s and minority rights in the West, universal suffrage in most countries of the world, and substantial advances in homosexual rights and visibility. There were no new schools of thought introduced during this time, but this period did fulfill some of the promises made during the first- and second-generations of rights.

Important Texts

  • Question of Nationalities and Social Democracy (1907)
  • “Fourteen Points Address” (1918)
  • Woodrow Wilson wrote the Fourteen Points so that they could be used as a template for an international organization for peace. The Fourteen Points discuss important ways of holding another country accountable for their behavior. It is significant because it demonstrates an attitude shift after World War 1 from having a view of just war to wanting to avoid war at all costs. The horrors of World War I made important leaders to create more peaceful options for managing conflicts.
  • “Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam” (1945)
  • “The Declaration of the Rights of the Toiling and Exploited Peoples” (1918)
  • “What Is to Be Done?” (1902)
  • ILO Labor Charter (1919)
  • The Soviet Constitution of 1936
  • “The Four Freedoms” (1941)
  • The United Nations Charter (1945)
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
  • The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)

Important Actors and Events

  • World War I
  • The Great Depression
    • This time would feed the development of a human right that many Americans take for granted today. One of the greatest byproducts of the Great Depression was the welfare state. The Great Depression lasted ten years and confronted the President with the need for governmental intervention. Interestingly, the socialism in countries such as Russia would provide the influence for the New Deal, FDR’s solution to the Great Depression; it would “involve increased government spending to create jobs, increase purchasing power, and stimulate the economy” (209). More importantly, the Great Depression represented a time across the world that fostered conversations on the right amount of governmental intervention. America, with the New Deal, recognized the need for a safety net for the citizens during tough times, borrowing some of the qualities of socialism. In countries across much of Europe though, leaders such as Stalin and Hitler, were trying to create a “fusion between nationalism and a distorted variant of socialism” (211). This would inevitably end with the Second World War, as these countries abuse their power in believing they could have a “totalitarian state [that] could penetrate every sphere of social activity to promote a mythical notion of the common good” (211).
  • World War II
  • The League of Nations
    • The League of Nations began after the signing of the 1919 Paris Conference. The new organization “did not promote the rights of the colonized,” and pushed for national self-determination (188). The League mandated that all “victorious colonial powers” agree to “bring the mandate territories toward self-government”(188). Under the League, colonial powers were enforced to ensure “racial and religious impartiality in the territories under its supervision”(188). The League protected the rights of minorities after World War I, especially those under the victors mandates. By 1919, the League “ratified the Polish Minority Treaty, which endorsed Polish self-determination”(188-189). The ratification of the Minority Treaty was due to the League’s fear of Polish national independence caused by oppressed minorities. The League of Nations after WWI helped protect the rights of minorities in defeated territories and spark the idea of self-determination. However, the League of Nations failed to keep their promise to protect the rights of the defeated and control European powers from expanding. By 1946 the League of Nations dissolved.
  • International Labor Organization (ILO)
  • The United Nations
    • The United Nations was founded after WW2 and the problems that the League of Nations failed to prevent. The main goal of the United Nations is to promote international peace and promote cooperation in solving international economic, social and humanitarian problems. The UN officially came into existence on October 24, 1945 after the UN charter was ratified by the permanent members of the security council as well as a majority of the other countries involved. The first meetings of the General Assembly, with 51 nations represented, and the Security Council, took place in Methodist Central Hall Westminster in London in January 1946.
  • International Court of Justice
  • NGOs
  • The Comintern (Third International]
  • The Council on Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon)
  • Bretton Woods system and the Marshall Plan
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • UN Emergency Force (UNEF)
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    • Eleanor Roosevelt led the human rights commission right after World War II. She is quoted as saying "this Declaration may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man by the French people of 1789, the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the United States, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries" (218). Roosevelt is obviously acknowledging some of the most well known prior idealized human rights documents. Roosevelt was a great scholar and eloquent, as well as a being very adept at reaching compromises. She often also stayed in support of her husbands legislation, including his 'four freedoms' ideas, which Cassin translated to the Declaration(222-223).
  • George Kennan
  • Leon Trotsky
  • Vladimir Lenin
  • Rosa Luxemburg
  • Otto Bauer
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Frantz Fanon
  • Mahatma Gandhi
  • Jawaharlal Nehru

Ishay, The Human Rights Reader, pp.304-324

In a chapter titled “On the National Question,” Ishay examines ideas of nation building, self-determination, and the rights entitled to those within the nation. Both Lenin and Gandhi discuss what is acceptable in the name of forming a nation. Lenin argues against nationalism as a force that helps exploit the workers, but still advocates the right to secede and allows strategic alliances with the bourgeois to fight oppression. Gandhi is much more pro-nationalism, saying, “it is simply ridiculous that we Indians should hesitate to accept independence as our only legitimate and logical goal” (317). However, he strictly limited the methods by which this independence could be gained: “We reap exactly what we sow…the prince and the peasant will not be equaled by cutting off the prince’s head, nor can the process of cutting off equalize the employer and the employed” (319). In contrast to the revolutionary Bolshevik claims that violence was the only method to attain a socialist society, Gandhi explicitly forbids that as an option. These documents also have much more of an international tone. It varies from the universalism of the Enlightenment where the idea of “all men” seems more theoretical than concrete for the writers; these rights are true for “all men” but the writer knew they would at this time only be practically applied to some. But in these documents, the writers have a sense of other nations. Gandhi says in “Means and Ends” that nonviolence will make India so virtuous “she will want to live as much for other nations as for herself” (319). Al-Husri talks about the logistics of Arab unity across nations. The Covenant of the League of Nations literally deals with the just interactions of nations. In these writings, we see international politics, interaction, and human rights take precedent like never before. Finally, the third major theme of these pieces is just relationships between nations and ethnic groups. The Covenant of the League of Nations’ mandate principles, while violating these colonies right to self-rule, do make numerous references to the rights of the indigenous peoples in ruling. The Polish Minority Treaty deals extensively with the rights entitled to “German, Austrian, Hungarian or Russian nationals” within Poland, as well as Poland’s religious and linguistic minorities. And Wilson’s address deals entirely with how nations should treat each other after World War I. A proponent of the liberal approach to rights, he advocated free trade, freedom of the sea, reduction of armaments, the restoration of territories seized in the war, the establishment of a free Polish state, and a “general association of nations” to maintain peace (309). These ideas of liberal economics, self-determinism, and an international political organization were major themes in human rights during the twentieth century.


  • Vladimir I. Lenin (The Right of Nations to Self-Determination, 1914)
  • Woodrow Wilson (“The Fourteen Points Address,” 1918)
    • Wilson's Fourteen Points was a discussion of the way peace should be formed and maintained in the post-WWI world. In this address, he outlines fourteen points meant to outline permanent peace, and establish the new national order in Europe. He advocated this through a policy of economic equality, limitation of arms for the Axis powers, restoration of all lands taken over by the war, establishment of new countries, and the formation of a League of Nations meant for international discussion and maintaining the peace. The economic provisions ensured that economics would not be a primary cause for war in the future. They included such provisions as lightening the economic load on Germany, and freedom of the seas for non-military purposes. Secondly, the Axis powers were to disarm, and limit their military. Thirdly, new nations were formed (around an ethnic bias). Finally, the League of Nations was formed to maintain the peaceful measures set up in the speech.
  • The Covenant of the League of Nations (1919)
  • Polish Minority Treaty (1919)
    • The Polish Minority Treaty, although signed on the same day as the Treaty of Versailles, was not as fruitful for the Polish people. As the Treaty of Versailles would have an everlasting affect on the victors of the WW1, so would the Polish Minority Treaty. It gave such a responsibility to the Polish, that they would reject it 14 years later. This treaty made the Polish Nation responsible for everyone within their nation state regardless of language race or religion. Ultimately as time passed the Polish Minority Treaty was a failure to Poland, and the country sign a treaty with Germany losing land in the process.
  • Mahatha Gandhi (“An Appeal to the Nation,” 1924)
    • In this document, Gandhi urges as independence for the only "logical and legitimate goal" (317). He thinks that everyone needs to have the same common goal of independence rather than different groups fighting for different needs. The need for national workers is the core of independence because a unified band of national workers is what will motivate Congress to fight for independence. The four main points of Gandhi's independence are: boycott of british goods, the establishment of factories and cottage business, helping peasants and laborers in their land disputes and enhancing their economical standing, organization of the Asian races in the future. (318). In this document, Gandhi is urging for all classes of society to unite in hopes of achieving independence because he believes independence is the only obtainable goal.
  • Mahatma Gandhi (“Means and Ends,” 1909-1947)
    • In this document, which is actually an amalgamation of other documents, Gandhi discusses the connection between means and ends. He believes that there is an inviolable connection between ends and means: "means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree." For a tree to grow, it is necessary that it started from a seed, and that that seed continually grew into a tree. While this is fascinating on its own, the part particularly relevant to this course is the last segment, from "Harijan" (1947). Gandhi holds an idealist vision of socialism in which the members of a society are completely equal and there is no one above or below anyone else. Gandhi then applies his ideas about means and ends to socialist theory: in this document he says that in order for socialism to be successful, it cannot be treated as an ultimate end. The way to achieve socialism is to begin to convert people- to reach equality, everyone must be treated equally, then they must treat others equally, and so on. As Gandhi says "Impure means result in an impure end." If the path to socialism is filled with violence and non-equal behaviour, true socialism will never be reached.
  • Mahatma Gandhi (“Equal Distribution through Nonviolence,” 1940)
  • Sati’ Al-Husri (“Muslim Unity and Arab Unity,” 1944)

Tuesday October 23

Ishay, The Human Rights Reader, PP. 289-326

==In chapter 11, Ishay collected documents arguing the idea of nationality, and national self-determination. Ishay laid out the progressions and setbacks of individual nation’s national fervor and ideology towards national self-determination before, during, and after both World War I and World War II. Nationalism according to British political theorist John Stuart Mill was the key driving force for uniting a nations people. “Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart” (292). Providing a nation’s people the right to self-govern and oversee the government awarded the people with more individual and civic rights. However, this belief of national unity and self-determination seemed to veil imperialist virtues of global subjugation and dominance.

The twentieth century was an era of major progression and failure for human rights. Prior to the outbreak World War I, national self-determination was limited, due to European colonialism throughout the world. Authors during the era were concerned with their nation’s national self-dependence, however, unconcerned with the rights of other nations. All of the declarations made for nationalism and unity were merely self-motivated and these beliefs limited universal human rights to all subjugated nations. Colonized nations subjected to the mandates of their oppressors, dealt with hostile laws, which limited the rights of the natives. Mill states, “But there are others which have not attained that state, and which , of held at all, must be governed by the dominant country, or by persons delegated for that purpose by it” (296). Imperialist nations according to Mill believed it was the colonizer’s concern to develop their colony into “the ideal rule of a free people” instead of “a barbarous or semi-barbarous one” (297). These imperialist attitudes towards colonies created an ideology of national dominance and superiority. Poland, under the influence of Russia, wanted the free will to solve the nation’s questions (303). In other words, Poland wanted social, political, and economic self-determination. Rosa Luxemburg, an exiled Polish socialist leader, argued, however that Poland needed to remain dependent on Russia. The reason for Luxemburg’s argument was Poland relied too heavily on Russia economically. Her argument conveyed similar meanings as other pro-imperial advocates, which is the success of a colony relied greatly on the resources of their colonizers. National self-determination was limited only to the ruling nations.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a conflict erupted in Europe that rapidly escalated into a war of unprecedented destruction and bloodshed. Europe was at the height of its power. A century of relative peace had brought prosperity. In industrialized countries, people demanded for greater shared wealth. Throughout Europe, oppressed national groups clamored for self-determination. The limited extensions of a colony’s self-dependence started to grow. It was not until during World War I, when occupied nations were finally granted more independence from their oppressors. Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points progressed national self-determination for all subjected nations following World War I. Wilson, for instance, declared that “All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored,” and “an independent Polish state should be erected” (309). Ishay addressed the idea that colonies were now being recognized as independent nations, rather than oppressed nations. Wilson ignored prior beliefs of a ruling and ruled class and idealistically believed in national self-determination. In Point 14, Wilson declared “a general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike” (309). The demand for an international nation overseeing organization led to the development of the League of Nations. In theory, the League of Nations was created to protect the rights of natives and eventually grant them independence. Ishay depicted the progression of the individual nation’s claim and right for independence and self-determination. In the Polish Minority Treaty, individual human rights were granted to all, including minorities: “Jews shall not be compelled to perform any act which constitutes a violation of their Sabbath” (315). Imperialism, although popular with the ruling nation, became exceedingly unpopular with small nations and the ruling nations were forced to protect the rights of individuals, rather than oppress.

Self-determination was one major step forward for human rights. With the continued abolishment of imperialism throughout the world, individual rights were protected from subjugation, and more nations were granted independence In India, Mahatma Gandhi protested the presence of the diminishing British Empire by passive resistance. His use of passive resistance showcased to the world, the need for national self-determination and the abolishment of governing nations through the evils of “kings” and the use of “their kingly weapons” on colonies (316). The (non) actions of Gandhi ended the British rule and oppression in India. With the world witnessing, Gandhi became a symbolic figure for world-wide order and human rights by freeing India from the shackles of the British Empire and wanting equal distribution of rights to everyone. Human rights expanded during the intermediate periods between the World Wars. For example, Arab and Muslim unity was a necessary belief in ending foreign powers expansion into the Middle East according to Sati’ Al-Husri. Instead of nations in the region fighting one another, they would form an alliance and unite through language, religion, history, and geography (322-324). The importance of national self-determination made people fight to gain their rights and to continue to abolish colonization after World War II. Nations needed to unite and empires needed to decolonize for the world to progress nation’s rights and human rights. ==


  • John Stuart Mill, "Considerations on Representative Government," 1861
    • John Stuart Mill makes a clear connection between nationality and its role within how the government represents its people. He suggests that nations are connected by common language, ethnicity and national history. He supports his argument using various nations as examples, such as Switzerland and Naples. All of these elements are not necessary for creating a nation but they are important to welfare of a nation. The government has a role to play in maintaining these elements and creating a united identity. In a way, it is clear that governments could not exist without the context of nations because they would have no idea of what values they should be representing. It is interesting how the government's power is derived from the common identity and values of the people as well as the people themselves.
  • Rosa Luxemburg, "The National Question and Autonomy," 1909
  • Vladimir Lenin, "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination," 1914
    • Lenin writes in 1914, in partial response to Rosa Luxemberg; he attacks her understanding of capitalism in a way that allows him to argue why self-determination is not only a right belonging to nations, but also that it is in the best in interest of the oppressing nation because “of capitalist development and of the freedom of the class struggle [that are] best served by secession” (307).While Luxemberg argues primarily in favor of self-determination for the oppressed only if their economies are able to survive independently, Lenin argues in contrast, that modern capitalism depends on the “close connections between the market and each and every proprietor” (304). By this logic, national states must be formed in order to fulfill this requirement and in contrast to Luxemberg’s viewpoint, it is the larger nation’s economy that in fact depends on the oppressed gaining their independence. Lenin supports this by providing multiple examples of nations that have had the “best conditions for the development of capitalism” because of “the creation of independent national states” (305). He also says it is in the nation’s best interest because it cannot be free if it oppresses other nations: it fosters prejudices and these prejudices create “enormous obstacles to the cause of freedom” (306). Again, sourcing cases in specific nations to back his point. But besides the many reasons he gives for self-determination being in the best interest of the nation, he also states simply that is the nations right “to separate state existence” (304).
  • Woodrow Wilson, "The Fourteen Points Address," 1918
    • Wilson's Fourteen Points were part of a speech given to Congress. Wilson makes a lot of references to safety and peace as part of his justification for war. Freedom of the sea seems to be one of his more important points (#2) which is perhaps due to his interest in maritime trade. This address is about sovereignty but Wilson is commenting on it as an outsider. He also says "that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose tide is to be determined" (308). However, the colonized nation should have autonomy without taking the colonial powers loss into account because it is within their right to be free to self-government. The League of Nations is outlined in the fourteenth point. Wilson also mentions wanting Germany to "accept a place of equality...instead of a place of mastery" (310). Again, he is positioning the United States above others in trying to resolve European problems to benefit his own nation.
  • The Covenant of The League of Nations," 1919
  • "Polish Minority Treaty," 1919
  • Mahatma Gandhi, "Passive Resistance," 1909
    • Gandhi says that it is important for all Indians to practice passive resistance in order to gain their freedom from the British. He also feels that people should not be bound by manmade laws. Gandhi also makes his argument that it is more important to fight against the British using passive resistance instead of brute force and gunpowder because if you use brute force against them then they are going to be more willing to use force against you (316). In this document Gandhi also responds to questions the reader may have about passive resistance such as "Is passive resistance primarily a weapon of the weak?" and "How can one become a passive resister." (316)
  • Mahatha Gandhi, "An Appeal to the Nation," 1924
    • Though Gandhi has a very clear vision Indians achieving independence through passive resistance, in this article he and the other signatories argue that the Congress should remove references to "peaceful and legitimate means" from its statement declaring the goal of independence, so that disagreements over appropriate means do not keep people from supporting the ultimate goal. The document argues that the role of the Indian government in the struggle for independence is to educate the people on its importance, stating clearly the group's goals, and organizing economic support for workers and global support for the cause.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, "Means and Ends," 1909-1947
    • In this document, Gandhi lays out his beliefs with regard to the ends, and the means that must be used to achieve them. The means and the ends they achieve are directly linked, in his view. "If I want to cross the ocean, I can only do so by means of a vessel; if I were to use a cart for that purpose, I would soon find the bottom." (318) It is a well known fact that Gandhi was a proponent of nonviolent resistance. Though he recognized that, in order to achieve his ends, he would have to associate himself with those who believe in violence, he recognized that nonviolence was the true path. He viewed nonviolence as the direct path to truth, and the only way to truly make significant changes in the world. He also stated that this would be the only way to bring about a society that could be described as socialist. A socialist society would be brought about through pure means, such as nonviolence, which would result in truth.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, "Equal Distribution through Nonviolence," 1940
    • This document lays the ground work for how Gandhi thinks a society can become a non violent society. He urges for man to only take as much as he needs and by doing so, every man will be able to fulfill his needs (320). Gandhi does not believe that any previous civilization has really tried to work towards the goal of an non violent society. He does not want man to wait for someone else to make it happen but says to act, "It is necessary for me to emphasize the fact that no one need wait for anyone else in order to adopt a right course" (320). Rather than urging for religion and government to be separated, he states that these two are intertwined and can never be fully separated from one another, "To try to root out religion itself from society is a wild goose chase. And were such an attempt to succeed, it would mean the destruction of society" (320). The realization of this by Gandhi is fundamental to his argument. He declares that “God signifies an unchanging and living law” (320). He defines obedience to God as the definition of religion.
    • Gandhi expresses that the rich gained the knowledge of strength known as ahmisa when it entered their soul when they became man (originally believing that man was animal. The poor however do not possess this strength. The poor can only “become strong and would learn how to free themselves by means of nonviolence” (321). Gandhi urges that through civil disobedience man can be equal.
  • Sati' Al-Husri, "Muslim Unity and Arab Unity," 1944
  • Ho Chi Minh, "Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam," 1945
  • Kwame Nkrumah, "Speech on Decolonization at the United Nations," 1960

Thursday October 25


The Human Rights Revolution details the history behind the Universal Declaration of Human rights Starting at World War Two, and moving towards the signing in 1948 this reading looks at cause and implementation of the bill. The reading also covers many important events after the signing of the Declaration, which lends to the books overall theme of international human rights history. The reading makes great efforts to examine the beliefs and origins of the Universal declaration of Human rights. Beginning with the analysis of what people believed this reading examines the popular beliefs of the origins of human rights. “The Genocide Argument” is the argument supported in the pre- 1960s general opinion. According to the authors the argument states that the general consensus is that the genocide of World War Two was the main reason behind the signing of the document. This argument was widely spread until the 1960s where a shift in thought occurred. Thinkers shifted to view the holocaust as more of a “Civilizer of Nations”. These perspectives are important in human rights, because how we view a history of people is how we view those people. War Crimes were also discussed in correlation to the overall theme of examination of World War Two and its after affects.

These principals often overlooked formulate the modern day basis of how we run our military and have formulated international laws on human rights. The principles were designed to enforced law, and to also make sure the guilty parties involved in the atrocities of the war faced appropriate justice. This huge change in how criminal law was focused on internationally plays a huge role in securing the rights of those who are persecuted globally in modern times. This shift was a huge victory for human rights, and it has insured a broad spectrum of rights for people across the globe. Humanitarianism should also be mentioned in the context of this reading. Humanitarian Law was before World War Two not a primary issue on the international platform. After the horror of the war it became essential for the international community to address what should be tolerated under international law. Laws for conduct in a war how you engage civilians or soldiers, needed to be defined so that the mass murder of the Holocaust could be prevented from reemerging in another country or nation. Overall this had a huge impact on the way our country and other countries around the world addressed the impeding issues after the way of how to treat the individual, how to respect the rights of individuals, and how to avoid treatment that is inhumane.

This was a step in the right direction for the advancement of the individual. Prior to this no concern was given to the individual; instead focus was only on soldiers in the most brutal of circumstances. Moving towards a more basic requirement food and rations were a subject of great importance touched upon in the readings. Here the authors make the argument that food rationing was a central aspect in post occupied Germany. Thousands of Refugees made their way into Germany, the question of what is adequate rationing s became an ever important topic. This issue was addressed in the documentation provided in this chapter, and so the rationing of food played an ever important role in determining the rights of the individual. Finally the drafting of the declaration should be mentioned. This document was drafted in the aftermath of the greatest of wars. This document was key to formulating global human rights norms and duties. Never has such a document been so instrumental in the forming the rights of man. This document brought a sense of guarantee as people could believe in the rights man. Today this document is the Cornerstone of policy ranging from food to humanitarianism. The question of how a person should be treated not only in war was finally answered. This document is not only the corner stone of Human Rights, but it’s the very core of how people are treated today. Rights have never been more important or controversial. Presently with restrictions due to laws in the national government; human rights takes a center spotlight on the international stage of focus. How are we to treat one another so that respect and dignity are found instead of hate and intolerance. These issues and many more were at the very core of the universal declaration of human rights. In this post 9-11 society rights are more than ever a topic of heated debate.

Katrina showed us that we have not still perfected the modal the Declaration set for us all those years ago. Ultimately it is on mankind’s shoulder to use the principles to ensure that there is rights and equality the globe over. Man must ultimately decide the fate of himself, and responsibility rests on those who are elected to ensure the declaration remains an effected legal and authoritative strategy to fight injustice. The future still holds many issues to be decided in the wide world including how we face discrimination, and how we hold opportunity for all those who wish to seek it. Ultimately justice for all depends on all, and everyone must hope that the declarations message remains a driving force in the way we treat ourselves.

Key Actors and Events

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
    • Though typically described as a response to the Holocaust, a variety of political and philosophical influences shaped the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These include an emphasis on individual rights rather than minority rights after the failure of the League of Nations, the desire to avoid a major challenge to colonialism, and previous existing ideas about human rights. Though many of the framers were influenced by the Holocaust and responses to it can be seen in several of the listed rights, the document was not necessarily primarily a response to Nazi crimes.
  • The Genocide Convention (1948)
    • This document, along with the other 40's-era documents on human rights, was part of the response to the Holocaust and Nuremberg Trials (53). Although it was meant to function as international law, the Genocide Convention was hindered by outside sources; the first being the Cold War, in which the rights of individual countries took precedence over international law (57).
  • The United Nations
  • The Nuremberg Principles
    • The Nuremberg trials were one of the immediate outcomes of World War II. It was the series of trials held in Nuremberg, for prosecution of Nazi leaders. Deriving directly from this were the Nuremberg Principles that would serve as the basis for the international law on war crimes. The purpose of the Nuremberg Principles was to create a sense of accountability and to “highlight the ideas that individuals and states have obligations under international law and that the demands of international law may take precedence over national laws” (77). But this created anxiety in America, as does anything that may override any national or state rights.
  • Bricker Amendment
    • Senator John Bricker proposed these amendements to the US Congress in the 1950s. The controversial proposed amendment, that would “ensure no treaty could alter domestic law unless Congress passed supplemental enabling legislation” in order to protection our fundamental rights. This amendment would have, in effect, stopped the majority of foreign influence on the United States. This was formed in response to the Nuremberg Principles, and the Genocide Convention. At the time, these acts were seen as violations of the American way of life. They would have, in effect, turned racial matters at home into huge international violations. As is seen in every human rights advance, this represents the complications of a larger group of people trying to come to a consensus and the idea that although it fluctuates, there is historical progress over time. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled in 1957 that the United States was not legally allowed to take away rights issued to people in the Bill of Rights through treaties. To this day the Bricker Amendement still occasionally gets brought back up in Congress.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    • Eleanor Roosevelt's transformation to human rights came from her tour of “four refugee camps in the American and French occupation zones” (66). Appalled and dazed from the visit to a displaced persons camp and Zeilsheim (which was a Jewish camp near Frankfurt), she returned home and told a Jewish audience what she had witnessed. She announced the poor rehabilitation process of the Jews, and grasped “the crumbling of the thing that gives most of us a sense of security” (66). This further helped draft and declare “some of the main themes of Universal declaration” (66).
  • Food Rationing
    • In “Grams, Calories, and Food,” Atina Grossman discusses how different European groups responded to Allied food distribution and how this process shows the right to enough food to live on was complicated and evolved due to the inability separate the emotional and personal weight from the mathematical calorie calculations. She addresses most in depth the average German citizens and the Jews in the displaced persons camps. Both groups were labeled difficult to appease and overly needy. The Germans, used to the extravagant wartime rationing of 2,000 calories a day, complained that they were being starved in favor of feeding the Jews, a view everyone not German generally disagreed with. But for the Jewish survivors, “calorically adequate food was simply never enough” (124). After the trauma of their experiences, the DPs wanted foods that were part of their culture, foods that tasted good, and this drive pushed people to the black market in search of supplemental nutrition. Germans demanded more people by making universalist claims as victims entitled to their human rights, while Jews, embittered at their international political impotence, turned to particularism and the need for self-determination for a Jewish state that could argue for their needs when no other nation would.
  • United Nations Charter (1945)
    • It was a document created to reaffirm the United Nations' role in actively pursuing human rights issues and demanded that groups within the UN would devote their energy to protecting human rights. The document is significant because it highlighted the issues of woman's rights and included it in the category of human rights. Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in making this document a tool for women to gain both political and social power within the United Nations. After this document was created, it became easier for more women to become involved in the United Nations and have their voices heard.
  • Franklin Roosevelt
    • as the President during the time of World War II, one of his most famous speeches is the Four Freedoms speech, including the freedom from want. Roosevelt also collaborated with Churchill on the Atlantic Charter to help Britain and the Soviet Union economically after the war. The freedom from want regarding food is also written in to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (114).
  • Winston Churchill
  • Stalin
    • In "Grams, Calories, and Food," Joseph Stalin, dictator of the USSR, promoted a benevolent attitude towards the defeated German people after World War II. He vowed “the Hitlers come and go but the German Volk remains” (118). He launched a pro-communism campaign to the Germans on “a choice between becoming a communist on 1500 calories and a believer in democracy on 1000 calories” (118). Stalin promoted the belief that communism provided a relief for food throughout Germany. Hunger would never be an issue under Stalin’s rule. Americans were worried that Stalin’s campaign would trigger a “Communist Europe” (118). Stalin wanted the German people to see communism as an escape from Hitler and Nazism and a welcoming in his resourceful regime.
  • Lenin

Tuesday October 30

Thursday November 1

Iriye, pp. 285-310

Kelly Shannon focuses on female genital mutilation (FGM), specifically how the world responded to it. She starts by giving definitions to terms like clitoridectomy. Her thesis revolves around the assertion that "this shift in the conception of human rights to include women's rights and abuses in the 'private sphere' represents an important turning point in the history of human rights, one that must fundamentally alter the way scholars assess the human rights movement" (287). Shannon is examining treatment of women and notes that women have faced discrimination and sub-par treatment for a long time even though multiple UN doctrines proclaim they are equal. The problem with FGM is that policy makers have to battle with it being a cultural practice, and thus often refer to it more in terms of the medical practices that are inhumane. As a result of publicity, many countries that practiced FGM would either stop or downgrade to other options (like from infibulation to clitoridectomy). Fran Hosken is the one who coins the term female genital mutilation (289). The medical procedures were carried out by unlicensed people in the community, no anesthesia, and the cutting tool used was often rusty or a piece of broken glass. Christiane Amanpour makes a video for CNN about FGM, which brings international attention to it. The problem was that officials had to not classify this as a women's rights issue because it was a cultural practice. Shannon states that "the revolutionary breakdown of the public-private dichotomy, which had dominated human rights law for most of the twentieth century, created the potential for a truly universal application of human rights"(301)

Key People, Terms and Events Iriye pp 285-310

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM):
    • Female Genital Mutilation is a practice which includes, but is not limited to the removal of the female clitoris (293). FGM is practiced throughout Africa and the Middle East and is claimed to promote loyalty and faithfulness to the husband by removing the organ of the female body associated with pleasure. Although Fran Hosken brought international attention to the subject, FGM still continues for a variety of reasons. In the countries that practice it, women can be forced into being given the procedure; many FGM victims are under the legal age of consent. Continued practice of FGM only reaffirms to men in those countries that it is acceptable to brutalize women. Efforts to stop FGM were slowed by the condescending attitudes of some Westerners, who considered the practice and the countries that practice it as barbaric or ignorant (291-292). Cultural relativists also oppose Western interference with traditional cultural practices (293). Women in these countries also are economically and socially dependent on the practice of FGM. This is a very important international human rights issue for many reasons. Secondly it happens to civilians that are not in combat, so it is torture by any definition of the United Nations. This is will remain a topic of great discourse for years to come.
  • Fran Hosken:
    • A leading American Feminist and journalist who helped to shed light on the reality of FGM in an effort to get it recognized by the UN and have them target it. One of the main reasons why the UN was unable to address FGM before the 90s was that they considered it to be apart of the private sphere, which is "beyond the purview of international law" (287). They needed the World Health Organization (WHO) in particular to recognize it as a health issue to women. This is exactly how Hosken formulates FGM as an issue. She took "three trips across Africa to interview midwives and doctors, sent hundreds of questionnaires to women and institutions in Africa and the middle east..." in order to better understand the issue and how to raise awareness about it. She targets the issue as a health one, which she argues is guaranteed by the 1948 Universal Deceleration of Human Rights. She also coins the term FGM in order to make the distinguishment between mutilation and circumcision. Hosken is one of the first people to do study genital mutilation and her findings are the framework for "subsequent debates on the subject in the international arena." The WHO held a conference in 1979 to discuss the issue and draw up specific recommendations for eradication of the practice, thanks to Hosken's research and advocation. But FGM is still something that we fight against today, even here in the US due to the carrying over of the practice from the middle east.
  • Hosken Report:
    • One of the first comprehensive reports on FGM. Though it showed how widespread the practice was and collected data used in many subsequent reports, Hosken managed to alienate many of the groups who she hoped would respond to FGM by harshly criticizing everyone from the UN and the WHO to women in countries in which FGM was practiced
  • Dr. Nawal El Saadawi:
    • One of the instrumental Egyptian activists and authors who spoke out against FGM. She was very controversial because she appeared in Ms. magazine after Hosken's research about FGM and stance regarding native women being ignorant about FGM occurring due to their illiteracy. She was featured in Ms. magazine because she was influential and could attest to her own experiences with clitoridectomy.
  • Center for Women's Global Leadership:
  • Global Tribunal on Violations of Women's Human Rights
  • Christiane Amanpour:
    • Amanpour was the CNN correspondent that brought to life the FGM video. She showed the video at UN Conference which began an uproar over the film and more importantly, human rights. The issues of FGM shown in Amanpour's film questions cultural practices versus basic, fundamental human rights. At the Un conference, Amanpour's film became the central topic and the topic is fueled delegates to rule all forms of FGM unjust. Amanpour's video is important to show how videos in the modern world play a role in determining human rights.
  • 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence:

Human Rights Reader pp 389-435

The problem focused on within these documents is the cultural relativism versus universalism. Some may say that globalization has played a role in this. In the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the rights of the individual are at the forefront of each document. Minorities are a focus as well, and each individual, while endowed with their rights, cannot use them to infringe upon others. Lukes attempts to layout possible scenarios that could be ideal for human rights, including Utilitaria, Communitaria, Proleteria, Libertaria, and Egalitaria. Lukes states that the most ideal of these is egalitaria, which is restricted by libertarian and communitarian values. To get to Egalitaria, first need to have human rights established (401). Tied to Lukes's imagining it Hobsbawm, who sees the left as a uniter of minorities and, much like Lukes, involves the reader/listener asking why we view the left so negatively. Rhoda Howard-Hassman and Jack Donnelly make the point that while everyone supports human rights, they are not actually universal in content. Relating to the earlier reading, Howard-Hassman and Donnelly make the connection of rights of individuals to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Rorty, in his analysis sees race as a problem with the conception of human rights. In his writings, utopia seems to be the goal, especially with his envisioned 'planetary community'. Muzaffer notes that people tend to see human rights and individual rights as synonymous. She lists the contributions of human rights as individual empowerment, the spread of democracy, checks on power, and increased accountability (414). In her eyes, though, the West is failing on human rights. While the United States supports human rights on paper, the nation was and still is very racist. Kymlicka and Nussbum both focus on minorities, at least in the eyes of rights. Kymlicka focuses of indigenous rights in North America, and the group versus individual rights phenomenon. The question he ends with is, should native societies be exempt from some of our conventions, like the Bill of Rights? Nussbum questions cultural universalism. In her discussion of other scholars, she notes that women are an integral part of society but are often left out of the discourse. To end, she stays that we are all responsible for solving the predicament of women.

Important Terms and Documents, Human Rights Reader pp 389-435

  • Cultural relativism:
  • Universalism:
  • United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
    • The United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights progressed modern 20th Century human rights for all people. “All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (391). People under international declaration were granted basic civil liberties and not restricted based on “race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (392). A goal for the declaration was to unite people under the same “requirements of morality, public order, and the general welfare in a democratic society” (392). Through international decree, human rights progressed for people throughout the world community after World War II.
  • United Nations International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights:
  • United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
  • Steven Lukes "Five Fables About Human Rights"
  • Utilitarians
    • In Steven Luke’s Five Fables about Human Rights, he presents an imaginary society called Utilitaria. Utilitaria contains “public-spirited people who display a strong sense of collective purpose: their single and exclusive goal, overriding all others, is to maximize the utility of all them” (392). These people are referred to as Utilitarians. This ideal is manifested by their national motto, which is “the Greatest Happiness of the Greatest Number” (392). Many Utilitarians argue over what is the definition of utility. Some believe it is objective and can be measured by “indicators such as income, access to medical facilities, housing, and so on” (392). Some, however, believe it can be measured subjectively or by indefinable means and is whatever a person's desires are, such as being well informed or “the avoidance of suffering” (392). Despite the differences between Utilitarians, they all agree that "what counts is what can be counted" (392). Each Utilitarian carries a pocket calculator for when they encounter a question on what needs to be done they can each simply translate the question into "which option will produce the greatest sum of utility" (393).
  • Act Party
  • Rule Party
  • Communitaria
    • "Communitarians are much more friendly people, at least to one another than are the Utilitarians." (393) This is how Steven Lukes first introduces the people of Communitaria in his "Five Fables About Human Rights." They are a people who believed in "shared understandings" as opposed to a more calculated way of life. (393) Since early creation Communitaria has underground many foundational changes and drifted away from their earlier ways and created a more pluralistic society. And even though there are many different subcommunitites that make up Communitaria they still practice what is known as "politics of recognition" which helps them view each others differences in an accepting manner. Any time a problem arises within one sub-community of Communitaria the people are free to break away from their sub-community to make a new one. (395)
  • Proleteria
  • Karl Marx
  • Libertaria
  • Egalitaria
  • Eric Hobsbawm "The Universalism of the Left"
    • Hobsbawn argues that particularism and the emphasis on cultural rights has weakened the advancement of human rights because each group only seeks to acquire rights for themselves. Because the goal of the Left is universalist, the methods should be as well. A coalition of identity groups has unity beyond a “common enemy” and will break apart when the immediate need for alliance wanes (403). Identity groups force people to identify with one identity and isolate the movement from the nation as a wholes, resulting in the view that the Left is just an alliance of minorities that does not speak for everyone. In Hobsbawm’s argument, group rights hinder the progress of human rights from both a idealistic and a pragmatic, as they foster exclusions of other groups and create weak alliances that cannot advance the human rights agenda.
  • The Left
  • Rhoda Howard-Hassman and Jack Donnelly "Liberalism and Human Rights: A Necessary Connection"
    • In this document, Howard-Hassman and Donnelley trace the origins of human rights as we currently understand it. They state that true human rights have never been achieved, and as such, at the moment are nothing more than an ideal. "We argue that the current view of human rights rests on the fact that it represents th eonly plausible vision of human dignity that has been able to establish itself widely in practice." (405). They believe that human rights is an inherently liberl proposition, that has not ben fully achieved. This article also states that the foundation for the current view of human rights is the bourgeoisie (which would run counter to the claim that the modern view of human rights is inherently socialist). They state that the concept for human rights originated out of the bourgeoisie belief that they had the right to be free from the oppression of the state. "Bourgeois 'freemen' thus began to demand that they indeed be free." This demand to be free would then go on to articulate itself in the belief in a universal definition of human rights, that would apply to all man.
  • Richard Rorty "Human Rights, Rationality, and Sentimentality"
  • 'Planetary community'
  • Chandra Muzaffar: On Western Imperialism and Human Rights
  • Will Kymlicka "The Good, the Bad, and the Intolerable: Minority Group Rights"
  • Martha Nussbum, "Women and Cultural Universals"
  • Central Human Functional Capabilities

Tuesday November 6

Both Simpson and Moyn contest popular ideas on human rights history. Moyn challenges the idea that self-determination advances human rights, and considers why the idea of human rights failed to catch on in the period directly after WWII, and instead became globally significant in the 1970's. He gives his argument in three parts. The first part explains that anti-colonialism had its basis in the aftermath of WWI, but that achieving self-determination was not possible until after WWII, due to the Atlantic Charter, which supported self-determination. Because anti-colonial movements had been waiting for some time, they used the Atlantic Charter to support their cause, not the UN Universal Declaration of Rights. His second point is based on the fact that Western human rights often claimed to be universal but gave limitations on who was eligible to receive rights. African and Asian countries that joined the UN were numerous enough to be able to outvote the First World powers. Pressure from these countries forced the UN to include the right to self-determination as a human right. This would later serve as a roadblock for the advancement of other human rights, as anti-colonial movements were focused primarily on individual civil liberties, and did nothing to correct social or economic injustices. Moyn ends by saying that human rights only became globally important during the 1970's because of the end to colonial rule, and the belief that anti-colonial movements were liberating their countries only to engage in human rights violations of their own.

Simpson uses the Indonesian invasion of the former Portuguese colony, East Timor, as a starting block for his argument that self-determination of countries was often subordinated to the bureaucratic interests of the time. He challenges traditional historical beliefs about the spread of human rights with the reality that human rights movements are often not singular in nature, and have differing goals and opinions. Indonesia wished to prevent East Timor from becoming an independent state, and invaded the country. This action, though it resulted in the deaths of 108,000-180,000 Timorese, was supported by key figures in the international community. Evidence of the regime began to come to light during the Carter administration, but was covered up by members of the State Department and the National Security Council. Reports on Indonesia failed to mention East Timor and downplayed the brutality of the regime. The Indonesian invasion was supported because the Western world would rather see a country be invaded and absorbed by another than gain the right to self-determination from colonialism. In contrast, Latin American countries that were fighting for independence focused on gaining personal liberties, which followed Western values, and were supported.


  • Atlantic Charter of 1941
    • The Atlantic Charter of 1941 was created by Britain and the United States led by Roosevelt and Churchill. The charter claimed self- determination as important to the Allied wars but did not use the word human rights. Roosevelt and Churchill differed on their specific opinions but the overall document was important during World War 2 in discussing self- determination. Elizabeth Borgwardlt believes that the Atlantic Charter laid the ground work for human rights, "She goes so far as to label the Atlantic Charter a "human rights instrument," though it didn't include the phrase, that set the terms for all the generosity that followed.." (163). Roosevelt and Churchill's draft of the charter was important during World War 2 in showing the importance of self-determination and human rights.
  • French negritude
    • Negritude was a particularist movement amongst francophone black intellectuals advocating a “cultural particularity [that] would contribute to, not interfere with, a universal civilization” (166). Author Samuel Moyn contrasts the hopes of this movement that the French human rights and universalist theories were corrupted, not flawed, and could still be applied to anticolonial movements with the trend in other anticolonial movements that rejected the rhetoric of human rights. Even negritude, however, rarely referred extensively to human rights, particularly into the 1960s when the “general infiltration of Marxism into anticolonialism” rejected universalist rhetoric (166).
  • Anti-colonialism
    • Formed differently than most rights movements, anti colonialism is enacted primarily after the 2nd world war. This movement formed as a response to western ideologies that brought the realism of colonization to the world’s attention. The western world’s view of the colonialism was to look at colonization as helping bring all the perks of civilization to savage minds. Until colonialism took a more realistic view as colonization being the cause of suffering for those being inhabited. In theory for western society at least the rights of the colonist are protected under law. Unfortunately the reality for those in the colonies was the loss of basic rights. This movement leads to the eventual dismantlement of colonization, however after World War Two it was a slow process to turn hundreds of years of thought around. Anti Colonialism is a huge step in a positive direction towards the eventual freedom of thousands under the rule of Empire States.
  • Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples of 1960
    • Proposed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, this declaration stated that human rights and self-determination were basically equivalent, making colonialism a crime against human rights. This and similar declarations became key to human rights activities, since they were written around the same time African nations were rapidly declaring independence.
  • Fretilin party
    • The Fretilin Party or the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor also known as Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente in Portugese, is a leftist political party in East Timor. The roots of this party can be traced back as an resistance movement against the Portugese in 1974. Once East Timor gained their independence from Portugal and then Indonesia the Fretilin party became a political party in East Timor's government. Today the Fretilin party is led by Francisco Guterres and holds a plurality of seats in East Timor's National Parliament.
  • East Timor
  • General Suharto
    • General Suharto led the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in December of 1975. Suharto met with US President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger prior to his invasion and offered “explicit approval for Indonesia’s actions” (180). With US approval, Indonesia was capable of launching a full scale invasion in East Timor. Promptly after the invasion, Suharto and his invaders committed massacre, spread disease, and famine to East Timorese with “between 108,000 and 180,000” killed (180). He was known for his violent regime that “killed an estimated five hundred thousand alleged communists and imprisoned and estimated one million more, overwhelmingly without trial” (181). As years went on, Indonesia was more suspect to other nations for their acts of violence against humanity, and political corruption ranging from bribes, scandals, and protests (182). Organizations worldwide condemned Indonesia for their immoral acts. The UN Security Council urged for Suharto’s regime demise and allow for East Timor’s self-determination. However, their claims were not met, due to the US’s involvement. Later, Suharto -- he was reliant on US aid -- was urged by the US and Congress to release political prisoners in East Timor or aid would be cut off, but “few detainees saw the light of day, and criticism from human rights groups continued” (182). After President Jimmy Carter was inaugurated, Suharto’s government was classified as ‘a moderate authoritarian regime’ with ‘ no consistent pattern of violation of human rights’ (182). After a while, Indonesian groups proclaimed Suharto’s regime killed “sixty thousand Timorese” (183). Under pressure from Washington’s aid, President Suharto “would refuse aid ‘if it’s tied to human rights pressures’” (183). Suharto with the assistance from Washington, was allowed to invade East Timor, commit massacre, deprive the rights of the citizens, and continue receiving foreign aid, all while he became President of Indonesia.
  • Richard Holbrooke
    • Richard Holbrooke was assistant Secretary of State to the Carter Administration. He went to Jakarta to meet with Indonesian officials. Holbrooke was well received, perhaps because he didn't criticize the Indonesian's terse relationship regarding human rights. He also was there during a very heated election (184).
  • Zbigniew Brzezinskif
    • He was the National Security Advisor in Jakarta, Indonesia. He got a letter about the complexities behind applying human rights with American policies regarding Indonesia. He was instrumental in getting a reevaluation of American policies in Indonesia and made human rights the least important aspect of policy. He rejected any suggestions regarding cutting off aid to Indonesia if they continued to violate human rights policy. He undermined the agenda of President Carter who wanted to force Indonesia to change their policy to fit into human rights standards. He put the alliances before any other agenda. It became more valuable to have Indonesia as ally than challenge them on their violating human rights in regards to their interactions with the East Timor.
  • Walter Mondale
    • Walter Mondale was the Vice-President under the Carter Administration. He visited Jakarta in order to technically reaffirm the status of human rights in Indonesia. However, the reality of meeting with president Suharto was that he was to reaffirm and to forge closer relations with Indonesia, even at the cost of human rights. Mondale even took this to the extent that he believed that human rights were nothing more than a cultural perception, and were not to be enforced in other countries. Because of this, human rights was treated as a secondary issue during the meeting, and matters of state were treated as more important. One of these matters was the sale of 28 A-4s, which the US knew would probably be used on the ground to commit human rights violations in East Timor.
  • Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
    • Minh begins this declaration with a quote from the United States’ Declaration of Independence that states that Minh says means, “all the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free” (324). But as he goes on to explain throughout his declaration, this is not true. Vietnam has been under the control of the French for a long time who treat them very inhumanely. They “deprived [them] of democratic liberty…prevented [them] from being united…robbed [them]…and invented numerous unjustifiable taxes” to just name a few (324-325). This declaration speaks to the failure of human rights during the 1940’s.

Thursday November 8

No Wiki Post Today

Tuesday November 13

State of the World's Refugees by Mark Cutts describes upon the rise of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Chapter 1 provides background information about how the UNHCR came into existence. The original commission was created in 1943 under the name UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. The first commissioners were Fridtj Nansen and james McDonald. In July of 1947, the International Refugee Organization replaced UNRRA and there was an emphasis on repartition of countries and displaced people. In 1949, the UN General Assembly voted to establish the UNHCR. 1951 was the first UN Refugee Convention and out of the convention there were two decisions. First, the benefits from the conference could not apply to people who became refugees because of events after January 1 1951; and second, when a state became a party to the convention, states had the opportunity of making a declaration limiting their own obligations.

Chapter 2 focuses upon the decolonization in Africa. The first war is the Algerian War 1954-1962 in which the Algerians were fighting for independence from the French. This chapter also discusses the displacement of Rwandan refugees and how the Rwandan people faced problems not seen in the Algerian War. In Africa, the struggles to decolonize were more difficult than previously seen in other locations and Africa suffered more displacement. The chapter ends with a discussion about the Rwanda Tutsi genocide in 1994 where over 800,00 Tutsi people where killed. Cutts does show that progress during this time was made through organizations such as the League of Red Cross Society and the OAU Refugee Convention of 1969.

Chapter 6 is titled the repatriation and peace building during the early 1990's. The chapter begins discussing the Namibian Repatriation which Cutts says is linked with the lose of apartheid and the end of the Cold War. This chapter also turns to Central America and the need for peace and cooperation among Central American countries. In 1994, the Guatemalan Accords were establish to help create peace and the accords set out a timeline for peace in Central America. Cutts shows positive movements towards peace in Chapter 6 and countries have begun to work together in hopes of achieving peace and cooperation.

Chapter 11 is a culmination of how displacement and refuges have changed over the years and how as a society, people are working towards being more involved and helpful in the displacement of refugees. Cutts points to globalization as a double edged sword because globalization has allowed for the circulation of good and capitals to increase but the rise of xenophobia among people has increase. The chapter is left open ended as to how humans, countries, citizens will decide to carry on the work the UNHCR has begun and how refugees and displacement can be better accommodated in our society.

The Human Rights Reader pages 373 to 388 tied in with Cutts reading because the documents in this section were about refugees, immigrants, sexual trafficking and the loss of human rights for groups such as these. These primary documents spoke to the fundamental idea that human rights should not be restricted to certain groups and that refugees, immigrants and even women who are involved in sex trafficking are entitled to human rights. Hannah Arendt in her document "On the Rights of the Stateless" sums up perfectly what these minority groups miss from human rights, " They are deprived, not of the right to freedom, but of the right to action; not of the right to think whatever they please, but of the right to opinion" (374). Ardent emphasizes how these groups have no say or involvement in their treatment by others and are not even recognized by the state. Other documents in this section discuss sex trafficking and how sex trafficking strips women of their rights and most importantly, women lose their eduction and health care rights. The bulk of these documents call for action to back taken in support and defense of women rather then let women continue with little rights but involvement in the sexual trafficking industry.

Important People and Documents from Cutts

    • The UNHCR or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is an agency created by the UN specifically for support and to protect international refugees. The UNHCR was established in December of 1950. One of the main jobs of the UNHCR is to find permanent living solutions for these refugees outside of whatever country they are a refugee from. The UNHCR was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981. As of 2007 the UNHCR had a reported a total of 21,018,589 individuals falling under its mandate, with the largest amount being from Asian countries.
  • Fridtj Nansen
    • A Norwegian explorer appointed to by League of Nations to address the problem of Russian refugees after the Russian Civil War. The office he established, which helped refugees either find work in their new countries or return to their home countries, created the basic structure which the United Nations High Commission for Refugees would later follow. He particularly worked for legal protections for refugees, such as providing them with documents so that they could travel more easily. He was also committed to remaining politically neutral, so that refugees on all sides of a conflict would have access to legal rights.
  • James McDonald
    • James McDonald was a High Commissioner of refugees appointed by the League of Nations. These refugees were mainly Jewish, fleeing Germany. McDonald helped them settle in other countries while trying to get the League to take action on Germany. After a frustrating few years as High Commissioner, McDonald resigned although he did help over 80,000 people resettle (15).
  • 1951 UN Refugee Convention
    • The 1951 UN Refugee Convention was held July 1951, and it adopted the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It gives a definition to the word refugee, and lays out the rights of refugees and the obligations of states towards refugees. Article 1 defines refugee as “any person that lives outside of their country of origin due to fear of persecution”, and lists the rights that refugees are entitled to; this includes education, residence, freedom of movement, and naturalization. Notably absent is the right to asylum. As stated in Article 33, A country is not obligated to grant asylum to foreigners, but they cannot return refugees to their country of origin if there is a chance that they will face persecution. It not only created international standards for the treatment of refugees, but it also changed the way that victims of persecution were viewed by the international community. Previously, refugees were identified based on their group demographics and nationality. After the convention, the individual status of a refugee became important, and classifications were no longer made solely on the person's nationality. The 1951 Refugee Convention was an important milestone in human rights, as it remains the only universal international refugee law.
  • Hungarian Crisis of 1956
    • The crisis caused the UNHCR to move away from its initial focus of individual refugees displaced by events prior to 1951. The author identifies this as the “first major test” of the UNHCR because of the large mass of refugees—about 200,000—that it had to relieve, relocate, and repatriate. It also marked the first time the UNHCR worked with the International League of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies, establishing a precedent of the UNHCR working closely with international NGOs to aid relief. The Hungarian Crisis also required an expansion of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention; Paul Weis successfully argued that the Convention could reasonably encompass people outside of the imposed time limit, an argument that helped expand the role of the UNHCR outside Europe.
  • Resolution 1286
  • League of Red Cross Society
  • General Assembly Resolution 1973
  • OAU Refuge Convention 1969
  • Esquipulas II
  • Javier Perez de Cuellar
  • Guatemalan Accords 1994

Important Documents from the Human Rights Readers

  • Hannah Arendt
    • She wrote On the Rights of the Stateless. She argued that refugees are in danger because they have no community to turn to for support after going through difficult situations. She believes that having no community is the gravest misfortune that refugees face. She highlights a step by step process of stripping away community by first taking away legal privileges and isolating them from their community, citing the Jews as an example. She argues that emphasizing a group as "other" forces them to be alientated from the community and creating a dynamic where the other group has created their own subcommunity without the other group. By doing this, the power of people's opinions has been diminished, rendering any resistant action as ineffective and creating no opportunities for change.
  • On The Rights of the Stateless
    • In "On The Rights of the Stateless" Hannah Arendt discusses the concept of human rights for refugees, or people without states and national ties. This excerpt focuses primarily on the idea that, without a framework to protect ones rights (i.e. a government) a person does not really have rights. They are simply a fundamental human. They have the ability to move freely and the ability to think, but they are deprived of the right to an opinion or to act in their state. Their actions and words mean nothing, because there is no framework for them to act and think in. (374) She continues to say that when a society comes into contact with a stateless person, they react to the person as an alien-- a "frightening symbol of the fact of difference." (375) When people are involved in a society, that society equalizes all of their differences; their differences are no longer important because they have a broader category to fall under. According to Arendt, the danger with people living without this category is that they begin to join together as "barbarians and live like "savages," and this could begin to tear at the world's known political systems and at the order we have created for ourselves. (376) The worst part is, according to Arendt, that this group of people has come from within our own society. By denying people their right to have rights, governments have created a force that can act directly against them and completely upset the balance they tried to create in making the refugees stateless.
  • Saskia Sassen
    • Sassen raises awareness in her article "Women's Burden: Counter-Geographies of Globalization And the Feminization of Survival." Specifically she focuses on the "economic stituation [that] sets the context for the emergence of alternative circuits of survival" (377). This including, in large, the trafficking of women for the sex industry. She provides alarming statistics on the billion dollar profit margin across the globe from this practice (378). And how immigration rights only silence those being abused because women are smuggled into the country and then they have no medical, no rights, and will be treated as "violators of the law insofar as they have violated entry, residence, and work laws (378). Also, Sassen draws on many countries' reliances on remittances that leads to a great amount of violence against women- such as "mail-order bride agencies" and the exportation of nurses.
    • Sassen also points out the fact that options such as these are some of the only options available to women from under developed countries. This is due to the financial situation that was set up in these countries, including their high unemployment, and bankruptcy rate. This poor economic situation, combined with terrible policies towards immigration allowed trafficking of women to turn into a major criminal industry that would bring in millions of dollars, and essentially become a form of forced slavery.
  • Women's Burden: Counter- Geographies of Globalization and the Feminization of Survival, 2000
  • United Nations Convention Relation to the Status of Refugees 1951
  • United Nations Covenant on the Rights of the Child 1989
    • This article goes to great lengths to ensure the protection and rights of children. Adopted on November 20th 1989 this legislature ensures the rights of refugee children. Under this they are guaranteed to receive “appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights or humanitarian instruments to which the said states are parties. Children now are protected as human adults are under the court of international law. Further agreements in this article state that a state will “ protect and assist such a child and to trace the parents or other members of the family of any refugee child to in order to obtain information necessary in reunification with his or her family. Now states are obligated to use the resources available to them to reunificate familes. This article serves as a triumph for the protection of children the international stage. This article ensures the protection of those who are helpless in their time of most need. This has grave importance for human rights around the world, and especially for children whose lives lay in the balance.
  • United Nation Guidelines on the Protection of the Refugee Woman 1991
  • United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families 1990
  • On Sexual Trafficking: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
  • On Sexual Trafficking: The Beijing Declaration 1995
  • On Sexual Trafficking: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1999
    • The spread of human rights increased greatly with globalization. Globalization spread western influence on the importance of children’s rights to Africa. African nations were forced under the United Nations to provide their children with basic human rights. Much like the UN’s 1989 On Sexual Trafficking: United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child, in 1999, the UN’s On Sexual Trafficking: African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child, decreed African nations belonging to the UN had to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. This included “the abduction, the sale of, or traffick in children for any purpose or in any form, by any person including parents or legal guardians of the child” (388). All of these activities were unlawful and created to protect the child at all costs, even from their parents. The sanctity of children and their right’s came to prominence in the latter half of the 20th Century and through this decree African children gained more international protection from sexual predators.

Thursday November 15

Tuesday November 20

Tuesday November 27

In Balancing Justice and Social Unity: Political Theory and the Idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Jonathan Allen analyses the moral justifiability of truth commissions through the lens of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Truth commissions were created in various nations to provide, on the one hand, an alternative to full prosecution, and on the other, a way to provide national recognition and reconciliation of the past. They were formed to create a break between an old regime and a new one; to cast off the past, as it were, and to make way for people to move forward. Allen's question is not how effective they were, but what the major arguments against truth commissions are and whether those claims are enough to discredit the institution entirely. The first criticism is the justice-based criticism. According to Allen, it is a two-part argument; the first that, although the courts can determine the constitutionality of the practices of the TRC, and offenders who are not granted amnesty are subject to normal prosecution (321), the institution is a complete political compromise and is simply a means to compete for political power. To this he says not all institutions follow their creators ethical practices-- the TRC is not bound by the politicians who created it, and even when it does make a morally questionable decision, that does not discredit it entirely, or mean that it cannot make just decisions (322). The second half of the justice argument thinks that in trying to uphold values of reconciliation, unity, and disclosure, justice is sacrificed, and as Allen says, because the idea of a truth commission is to get rid of the injustices caused by the previous regime, this argument is of particular import. His counterargument is that "justice does not automatically have priority over other moral values and that judgements about the relative importance of values have to be made." (323) Rather than saying the choice is between complete amnesty or a full tribunal, this argument and the TRC hope to balance morals and justice: to give victims a chance to speak and have their stories heard, and to put the perpetrator on the stand and determine his guilt. He admits that while yes, something is lost in the "transaction[s]" of the TRC, it is a balancing of values, not an omitting of one or placing one higher than the other. Continuing with the idea of justness, the TRC is not able to give punitive punishments- it can simply grant amnesty or not. Fans of punitive justice and retributivism see this as a failure of the entire establishment of truth commissions, but other say that a perpetrator standing in front of everyone and admitting to their crimes is a punishment as is, and serves as a warning and a deterrent for other would-be offenders.

Key Figures and Concepts

Thursday November 29

No Wiki Post Today

Tuesday December 4

Ch 5. Globalization and Its Impact on Human Rights

  • In this chapter Ishay discusses the effects that globalism and globalization has had on the world and more notably the area of human rights. Although it would seem to many people that a globalized world that is more connected in different ways is a good thing many of the examples that Ishay gives say otherwise. She says, “The political consequences of globalization have been ghastly.” (247) This point is further supported later in the article when the post-WWII anti-colonialism protests going on in Latin America are discussed. The benefits that globalization has divide the human rights community. Many members of the human rights community are torn between fighting for human rights on a national, cultural, economic, or an environmental scale. These differences can inhibit any promotion for a human rights cause if the main supporters cannot be united. Ishay also discusses how slowly but surely the ideas of global justice and human rights are becoming a crucial part of any strategy that is created to achieve long-term global security.

Globalization and Protest Movements

  • In the time period between 1968 and 1989 many new social movements were taking place during the waning of the cold war. These social movements would alter society during this time in very large ways. In the late 1960s events such as the crisis in Algeria, the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy, and the Soviet repression of Prague Spring all ended up fueling massive worldwide student political movements. (248) The protests at this time were the most widespread resistance since World War Two. Protests began in Paris and quickly spread to the United States, Mexico, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. One of the main reasons that these protests were able to spread so quickly was because of globalization and technology. Students and artists from all over the world were reading the same books and publications that helped spread the ideas that they were protesting for such as Green Politics. (248 and 251) The area of Green Politics were highlighted by anti-nuclear and pacifist ideas. As mentioned earlier this is also when the guerilla movements began to take place in Latin America. With these guerilla movements taking place in Latin America as well as other places around the world many revolutionaries began to look for change nationally rather than internationally. This was coupled along with the decreasing belief in an international proletariat. These protests in third world countries against anti-imperial efforts brought back the fight for human rights in the west. Ishay states, “As mass movements began to fade, a new era of identity politics began.” (251) This includes many different minority and cultural groups fighting for their rights. Slowly political dissent began to be tolerated by countries as long as it did not threaten the countries economics or globalization. One important thing that globalization did however was begin to erode the soviet empire. Gorbachev began to push new reforms such as his Glasnost policy, and a Lech Walesa led movement for political freedom in Poland inspired many other communist countries to do the same. Without any support from the Soviets countries in the Eastern Bloc began to fall to the political dissatisfaction of their citizens. As the Soviet Union was in its decline China was still holding strong against human rights. An instance of this was seen in the events at Tiananmen Square in which the Chinese government killed many students participating in a protest. Then leader of China Deng Xiaoping did everything in his power to squash any kind of Chinese solidarity movements. The eventual collapse of the Berlin Wall finally sealed the fall of Communism and helped the spread of globalization. (253)

Aftermath of 1989 and its Impact

  • In 1991 the Maastricht Treaty was signed to help deepen European economic cohesion. The Americas quickly followed with the 1992 signing of NAFTA. The signing of NAFTA was not seen without protest however. The Chiapas people of Mexico quickly began to protest against NAFTA because they felt it was going to be unfair to them. Because of this, “Global communication had penetrated the countryside of Mexico and became a recognized tool for human struggle.” (254) Following these protests there have been many more human rights protests against globalization including protests against the IMF, WTO, the World Bank, and the G8. Ishay claims, “many people that are protesting do not oppose international trade, but instead seek international regulations to secure the rights of women, children, and labor to promote development and protection of the environment.” (254) Unfortunately in most cases extreme fundamentalists groups have also entered the fight against globalization and modernity, which in some cases can lead to a lack of support for non-fundamentalist protestors because society tends to group all protestors together.

<a _fcknotitle="true" href="Defining Rights in an Era of Globalization">Defining Rights in an Era of Globalization</a>

  • Economic Globalization and the Question of Labor and Development
  • After World War Two a international monetary management system was needed, which led to the creation of the Bretton Woods system. However there were some eventual problems with the Bretton Woods system that eventually led to the creation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that was eventually turned into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Every change was backed by new technological innovations as well as new developments in the area of human rights. Recently human rights campaigns have began against child labor that is taking place in many developing countries. Ted Fishermann stated, “sixty percent of everything the world produces will be made in developing countries.” (259) This called for a greater form of regulation on companies in these countries. The main problem however is arising in Asian states that ten to invoke their inalienable rights to economic development, which is causing many problems with creating regulations
  • The Global Environment and Environmental Rights
  • “The intensification of human-inflicted damage on the environment, exacerbated by globalization has also helped reform and energize human rights militancy.” (264) This line from Ishay gives an idea on the fight for the environment in the area of human rights. The environment has been added into the fight for human rights because ozone depletion, marine pollution, deforestation, desertification, soil exhaustion, acid rain, carbon dioxide emissions, hazardous waster, and nuclear risks are problems that are facing the global community. Unfortunately many NGOs that are trying to change the environmental conditions for the better in areas of the East do not listen to the primitive populations that inhabit certain areas that are facing environmental damage. Ishay also discusses the feminist perspective on ecology and stated, "Many socialist feminists have rejected the belief that woman are closer to nature as essentialist attribution of women's capacity..." (266). This idea that women have a closer relationship with nature is widely contested and is an idea that in our modern world, can not be upheld as well. There are many conflicting groups who have approaches about how to best handle the the environmental problem. The majority of groups do acknowledge that wealth is a major factor leading to the environmental problems.

Global Migration and the Question of Human Rights

  • Since World War Two the visibility of refugees around the world has greatly increased. This is seen all over Europe as well as in America. This has caused for a creation of refugee rights and migrant workers rights. A problem that arises is does the citizenship of the refugee affect their rights. Other problems that are arising are citizenship problems and illegal immigration. These are often seen in the United States with people coming into the country illegally and trying to receive the same protections and benefits that legal citizens have. Migrant workers add a great deal of economic prosperity to the countries they migrate. For example Turkish Immigration after WW2 brought Germany back from a massive economic recession. however, this did not grant them citizenship in germany, and as result they did not recieve the rights as a citizens.

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