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Social Science and Public Policy

The Long 1948: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Humanity and the ‘Pacification’ of Madagascar

March 23, 2023 at 3:30pm5:30pm EDT

Sims Hall, 219

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The immediate aftermath of World War II laid a new configuration of political life at the international level, both in the colonial metropoles and their possessions. In the French empire, demands for the end of colonialism were thus met with campaigns of ‘pacification’ and colonial massacres as the modus operandi. From Thiaroye (1944) to Setif (1945) to Indochina (1946) to Madagascar (1947), these campaigns sought to restore colonial order. Yet, on 10 December 1948, the UN General Assembly held its third session and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris, which allegedly enshrined the rights and freedoms of all human beings.

Dr. Ba’s presentation is a reading of the historiography of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ultimately, his work contends that humanity, as the primary referent for western modernity, operates against the backdrop of colonialism, which at its core, is the denial of humanity, wherein lesser humans could not be included in the global community. The post-Word War II international order came to be through the delineation of the lesser, unhuman or otherwise human, who are unworthy of protection from the laws of war, the crimes against humanity and the frameworks of human rights.

This event was published on February 6, 2023.

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