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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Humanitarianism, human rights, and decolonization have each generated their own historiography. This chapter demonstrates how their histories were so closely entangled that they are barely comprehensible when studied in isolation. The central argument is that the post-colonial world was forged at the intersection of these three post-war geopolitical forces, and that the study of human rights and humanitarianism enable us to see decolonization in a much more dynamic way than state-centric approaches. Human rights activists and humanitarians hoped to change the face of a decolonizing world, but that decolonizing world profoundly affected what they were able to do and what they eventually became. Decolonization is revealed for what it actually was: an untidy, indefinite, and possibly even unfinishable process, the consequences of which are still very much with us today.

Keywords: Liberation Movements, Geneva Conventions, Detention, United Nations, International Red Cross, Oxfam, Amnesty, Human Rights Commission, World Council of Churches, NGOs

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