'Calendar Propaganda' of Human Rights? Historical Perspectives on the United Nations’ Global Observances

Paul Van Trigt's picture
June 14, 2017 to June 16, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Political History / Studies

Preliminary Programme

Wednesday 14 June

5pm Keynote 1: Thomas G. Weiss, ‘UN Ideas That Changed the World’ (location tba)

Thursday 15 June

9.30am Registration

10am Introduction

10.15-11.15am Keynote 2: Steven L.B. Jensen, ‘Global Crossroads. The 1968 UN International Year for Human Rights and the New World of Sovereignty’

11.30-12.30pm Panel 1: Observances and world politics

Self-Determination as Socialism: East Germany, Decolonization and the International Year for Human Rights (Ned Richardson-Little)

The First UN Development Decade (1961-70) and the Shaping of an International Aid System (Anna Derksen)

Discussant: Alanna O’Malley


1.30-3 pm Panel 2: Observances and global policies

Propelling fair trade towards its limits: the fair trade movement and the United Nations Decade for Women, 1976-1985 (Peter van Dam)

The United Nations International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (Lucas Schemper)

The Disappointing Decade. The Evaluation of the UN International Decade of Disabled Persons from an African Perspective (Sam de Schutter)

Discussant: Vincent Lagendijk

3.30-5.30 pm Panel 3: Observances and identity politics

Visualizing the UN’s Observances - Visualizing Human Rights (Monika Baar)

‘Surely during this international year, some things have to finally change’: Irish disability activism and the United Nations’ International Year of Disabled Persons (1981) (David Kilgannon)

Love, rights and solidarity “after the boom”. Exploring the critical potential of disability history for studying human rights in Western societies (Anne Klein)

Decade for People of African Descent (Artwell Cain)

Discussant: Susan Legêne

19.00pm Dinner

Friday 16 June

10-11am Keynote 3: Marie-Benedicte Dembour, ‘The Limits of Human Rights’

11.15-12.30pm Roundable: From propaganda to law. Exploring a new research agenda

Contributions by Yvonne Donders, Veronika Flegar (observances and migration), Barbara Oomen (observances and preratification politics), Marlies Hesselman (Impacts of the UN Year/Decade on SE4ALL on the Construction of New Human Rights Norms), Mando Rachovista ("The UN Works": An Alternative Narrative of the UN Observances and their Impact to Framing New Agendas and Law-making)


1.30-3pm Panel 4: Observances compared

The International Women’s Year (1975), The International Year of Disabled Persons (1981) and their follow-up: from failures in time to rhythmic normalization (Anaïs van Ertvelde)

‘Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ A Comparison between the World Population Year and the International Year of Disabled Persons (Paul van Trigt)

The World Refugee Year and Global Migration Governance: UNHCR Activities and their Impact on the Migration Policy Discourse in 1959-1960 (Veronika Flegar)

Discussant: Salvador Regilme

3.15-4pm Discussion and final reflection by Monika Baar


The workshop is initiated and hosted by the research team of the ERC project Rethinking Disability in the Institute for History at Leiden University: www.rethinkingdisability.net. Please send an email if you want to join us to the following email address: rethinkingdisability@hum.leidenuniv.nl by 1 June, 2017.