President Harry Truman speaks at the cornerstone laying ceremony for the UN headquarters, Oct. 24, 1949 in NYC. The cornerstone was laid over a receptacle holding a copy of the UN Charter & Declaration of Human Rights.
Peace with Rights: U.S. Leadership and Resistance in International Human Rights
Brown Bag Lunch
Series: International Security Brown Bag Seminar
Open to the Public - Perkins Room, Rubenstein-415
March 31, 2011
|Speaker:||Hanne Hagtvedt Vik, Research Fellow, International Security Program|
Related Project: International Security
Soon after war broke out in Europe in 1939, U.S. private and government studies identified "human rights" as a possible harbinger of a durable peace. The concept was written into the Charter of the United Nations in 1945. Wartime rhetoric of individual freedom and human rights committed the United States to pursue a leading role. Both leadership and resistance, however, already marked its policy. In 1953, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles declared a no-treaty policy.
Since then, the United States has either not ratified human rights treaties or attached wide-raging reservations to the treaties that it ratifies. Arguably, this practice has contributed to undermining the moral authority of the United States. Based on internal government documents from the years 1939–1954, as well as the private papers of leading U.S. legal experts and nongovernmental organizations, this seminar discusses the contributions of the United States and the U.S. legal community to the international human rights system in the 1940s and early 1950s. Contrary to existing scholarship on the history of human rights, this seminar emphasizes structural mechanisms embodied in the U.S. Constitution when explaining U.S. resistance towards legally-binding human rights treaties. While the time-specific domestic political landscape has changed, the structural mechanisms still prevail.
PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION!
Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.
ISP Program Coordinator
International Security Program, 79 John F. Kennedy St., Mailbox 53, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
HARVARD Kennedy School