Theses Master's

Decolonizing Human Rights and the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights: The Darfur perspective

Fashir, Yassmin

The idea of Human Rights in Africa, particularly in Sudan, needs to be based in traditional ideologies of belonging, peace and justice and this paper aims to show why a new framework is important. By analyzing how the Human Rights regime tried to sustain and promote peace in Darfur since its intervention in the late 1970’s, I argue that the human rights frameworks thwarts peace and justice in three ways. The first is that the conflict was misdiagnosed as genocide and thus mishandled. The second is that famine aid, based on theories of western famine relief, was inappropriately administrated. Lastly, the international community relied on the government of Sudan to enforce individual rights through treaties where Darfuris called on reconciliation and compensation.

The Human Rights framework and supporting institutions were not designed to address conflicts outside of a liberal democracy. It was designed as a series of international treaties and convents that grant rights through the court of law. In this way, human rights is colonized in that its application and implementation are based solely on historically western institutions, theories and philosophies that maintain universality. In order to truly understand how to decolonize Human Rights, we need the subjectivity, the perspective of those that have been the most left out of its framework. Discourse is central to my understanding of human rights because rights are expressed through discourse. This paper reveals that Darfuris have rationalized a different conception of Human Rights based on traditional ideas of justice.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Stephens, Rhiannon
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
March 29, 2023