Roland Burke
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Palliation, poverty and child welfare
Human rights and humanitarianism in the 1980s
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Humanitarianism and human rights, always commingled, briefly found sharper points of distinction in the two decades which immediately followed 1945. Human rights departed decisively from the palliationist mode; the compassionate crusades for the least worst that had defined campaigns for abolition, against King Leopold’s Congo, and for the war waifs and immiserated orphans of the countless conflicts that punctuated the industrial age of total war. From the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration, until the early 1970s, human rights drew itself apart from humanitarianism, constituting itself as an independent crusade based on ambitious, redemptive hope. With the inexorable and relentless disappointment of those hopes and the arrival of the NGO ‘breakthrough’, human rights would again lower its sights, and closed the twentieth century much closer to its older sibling.

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Humanitarianism, empire and transnationalism, 1760–1995

Selective humanity in the Anglophone world


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