The Smutsian concept of 'human rights'

Show simple item record Gravett, W.H. (Willem) 2017-03-30T08:59:32Z 2016-12
dc.description.abstract As the historian, Mark Mazower, illustrates in No Enchanted Palace (2009), the origins of human rights standards are not as pristine and pure as humankind generally would like to believe. Mazower raises the question of the part played by Jan Smuts in the creation of the post-Second World War global institutions. How was it that the prime minister of a state based on racial segregation became one of the initiators of the United Nations discourse of human rights? This article seeks to gain a better understanding of what Smuts might have meant when he introduced the phrase ‘human rights’ into the Preamble of the UN Charter. In the broader historical context, it is clear that by the end of the war the phrase ‘human rights’ had come to symbolise those fundamental freedoms that set the Allies apart from their totalitarian foes. It was in this context that Smuts gave expression to the phrase ‘basic human rights’ in his initial draft of the Preamble. Smuts viewed the ideological commitment to ‘human rights’ first and foremost as a method ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ - to prevent a third world war that humanity, let alone Western Christian civilisation, could not survive. However, human rights were emphatically not synonymous with political, social or racial equality. Smuts can thus hardly be seen as a proponent of the modern understanding of human rights. Smuts’ paramount contribution lies in his insistence on the fundamental connection between human rights and peace. His great failure - made all the more apparent by his expansive vision in matters of international relations - was the fact that he did not see what is so obvious today, namely that the same underlying issues were at stake both on the international stage and in South Africa. en_ZA
dc.description.department Procedural Law en_ZA
dc.description.embargo 2017-06-30
dc.description.librarian hb2017 en_ZA
dc.description.uri en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Gravett, WH 2016, 'The Smutsian concept of 'human rights', South African Journal on Human Rights, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 538-555. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 0258-7203 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1996-2126 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1080/02587203.2016.1258196
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Taylor and Francis en_ZA
dc.rights © Taylor and Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in South African Journal on Human Rights, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 538-555, 2016. South African Journal on Human Rights is available online at : en_ZA
dc.subject Jan Smuts en_ZA
dc.subject Charter of the United Nations en_ZA
dc.subject Human rights en_ZA
dc.title The Smutsian concept of 'human rights' en_ZA
dc.type Postprint Article en_ZA

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