South Africa’s Racist Founding Father Was Also a Human Rights Pioneer
How did Jan Smuts reconcile his belief in freedom abroad with his efforts to suppress it at home?
By Saul Dubow (Cambridge)
"The ranks of diplomats gathered in Paris during the spring of 1919 included a most unusual member of the British imperial delegation: a youthful South African politician and general named Jan Christiaan Smuts. One of his country’s founding figures and a leading force behind the formation of the British Commonwealth, the League of Nations and the United Nations, Smuts helped shape the emergence of the post-World War II liberal order — even though, all the while, he helped craft segregationist white rule in South Africa. How did he reconcile his promotion of human rights abroad and suppression of them at home? And how should we weigh this complicated, flawed but important figure, a century later?"