July 16: Elizabeth Borgwardt on Decolonization, Human Rights, and the Birth of the U.N.

In Conjunction with the Eighth International Seminar on Decolonization,

A public lecture by 

Elizabeth Borgwardt of Washington University in St. Louis:

“Present at the Creation?” Human Rights, NGOs, and the Trusteeship Debate at the 1945 UN San Francisco Conference

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 4 p.m. in Room LJ119, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress

This talk is the story of how “human rights” ideas and institutions found their way into the 1945 United Nations Charter, after having having been left out of earlier drafts of that document. Accordingly, this research analyses the role of “modern” public opinion sampling, the carefully cultivated role of non-governmental organizations, as well as the role of unintended consequences for U.S. diplomacy around issues of race, decolonization, and trusteeship. This story also addresses constraints and contradictions within the Charter itself around protecting domestic jurisdiction and minimizing the role of “smaller” countries.

Elizabeth Borgwardt specializes in the history of international law with a focus on human rights ideas and institutions. As Associate Professor of History at Washington University in St. Louis, she also holds a courtesy appointment in Law. She recently served as the Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor of Human Rights at the University of Chicago. Her most recent book, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, was published by the Belknap imprint of Harvard University Press in 2005 and is in its fourth printing. A New Deal for the World garnered the Merle Curti book award from the Organization of American Historians as the best book of its year in the history of ideas. It was also recognized with an award for the Best First Book in U.S. Foreign Relations and the History Honor Society’s award for the Best First Book on any history topic. Borgwardt has held fel lowships with Harvard, Stanford, the University of California-Berkeley, New York University, and the Holocaust Memorial Museum Archive, as well as a Fulbright with the University of Heidelberg, where she remains a permanent faculty affiliate. Her current project on crimes against humanity in history, law, and politics is under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.