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5 - Privileging the Cold War over Decolonization

The US Emphasis on Political Rights

from Part I - Anti-Colonial Struggles and the Right to Self-Determination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2020

A. Dirk Moses
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Marco Duranti
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
Roland Burke
Affiliation:
La Trobe University, Victoria
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Summary

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), approved by the UN General Assembly in December 1948, advanced the revolutionary idea that all human beings were entitled to the same basic rights regardless of “the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory” in which they dwelled. This meant that it extended to the 700 million people – almost a third of the world’s population – who in 1948 called the dozens of dependent territories home and injected human rights into the larger issue of decolonization of the Western colonial empires. The UDHR won approval without a dissenting vote, though eight nations, including the six members of the Soviet bloc at the United Nations – the Soviet Union, Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia – abstained.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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