Indivisible Human Rights: A Discursive History

Monday 12 November 2012

17.30 - 19.30  Adam Smith Building, room 916, (campus map location D8)

Speaker Prof. Daniel Whelan (Hendrix College, University of London)

Most contemporary accounts suggest that the "indivisibility" of human rights expresses the fundamental equality of all categories of rights, especially dispelling the notion that economic and social rights are somehow "different" or less important than civil and political rights. 

Prof. Daniel J. Whelan will explore the history of the indivisibility discourse, beginning with its emergence in the late 1940s as drafting of the Covenant on Human Rights began.  Significant debates about the place of economic and social rights within the Covenant ensued, and the language of indivisibility gained wide purchase as the U.N. moved toward the division of the Covenant into two separate treaties.  Whelan traces further discursive shifts about indivisibility, from 1954-1968 ("Postcolonial  Revisionism"); 1968-1986 ("Economic Justice"); and from 1986 to today ("Restoration").  Central to all these discursive shifts were questions about national and international duties for economic and social rights - questions that persist to this day.

Daniel J. Whelan is Charles Prentiss Hough Odyssey Associate Professor of Politics & International Relations at Hendrix College in Conway, AR (USA). He is currently a Visiting Fellow in Human Rights at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

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