The prevailing narrative of the history of international human rights law is built around a standard-setting phase driven by Western intellectuals and Western legal traditions followed by the emergence of a range of mechanisms promoted by Western countries. It tends to overlook or deliberately neglect the role of the Global South, where the first genuine human rights initiatives within the General Assembly were taken. The States of the Global South were focussed on the issue of racial discrimination, something the Western countries constantly pushed to the periphery of human rights. The South pushed human rights within the United Nations to take action, to impose sanctions on racist regimes, to develop potent instruments like the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In the field of international criminal law, while the Western States resisted any movement, the States of the Global South promoted progressive development, notably the extension of ‘crimes against humanity’ to encompass atrocities perpetrated in peacetime.
Speaker: Professor William Schabas (Professor of International Law, Middlesex University School of Law)
William A. Schabas is professor of international law at Middlesex University in London, emeritus professor of international criminal law and human rights at Leiden University, distinguished visiting faculty at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po and a door tenant at 9 Bedford Row. His new book, The International Legal Order’s Colour Line, will appear in 2023. His most recent publications are The Customary International Law of Human Rights and the published version of the course he delivered at the Hague Academy of International Law in January 2021 entitled Relationships between International Criminal Law and Other Branches of Public International Law. Professor Schabas is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.
Chair: Dr Andrew Wolman (Senior Lecturer, City Law School)
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