21.05. 6. Gerald Stourzh-Vorlesung zur Geschichte der Menschenrechte und der Demokratie

21.May 2014

A. Dirk Moses (European University Institute)
Human Rights and Genocide: A Global Historical Perspective

Mittwoch, 21. Mai 2014, 18 h c.t., Hs. 41

in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Forschungsschwerpunkt „Diktaturen, Gewalt, Genozide“ der Historisch-Kulturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät

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Defending human rights and preventing genocide are understandably regarded as paramount imperatives of national and international politics. The political and moral achievement of painful learning processes, they are the product of a post-Holocaust and post-totalitarian memory regime of relatively recent origin, although often traced to the Enlightenment, if not Antiquity. The nation-state stands at the centre of attention as the violator of individual and group rights; activists and NGOs seek to contain Leviathan’s excesses. In this lecture, Dirk Moses contextualises the emergence of this “negative politics” (Michael Walzer) in the global system as it has developed since the eighteenth century. The nation-state and its correlate, self-determination, have played a more complex role in generating human rights abuses and mass violence than commonly supposed. Does the nation-state as such require taming or the unequal global system that throws up challenges like environmental disaster and economic exploitation which the language of human rights defence and genocide prevention are ill equipped to discuss?