Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:

login

Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

The Impact of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" on the Study of History

Antoon De Baets
History and Theory
Vol. 48, No. 1 (Feb., 2009), pp. 20-43
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25478812
Page Count: 24
Were these topics helpful?
See something inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

Cancel
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
The Impact of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" on the Study of History
Preview not available

Abstract

There is perhaps no text with a broader impact on our lives than the 1948 "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (UDHR). It is strange, therefore, that historians have paid so little attention to the "UDHR". I argue that its potential impact on the study of history is profound. After asking whether the "UDHR" contains a general view of history, I address the consequences of the "UDHR" for the rights and duties of historians, and explain how it deals with their subjects of study. I demonstrate that the "UDHR" is a direct source of five important rights for historians: the rights to free expression and information, to meet and found associations, to intellectual property, to academic freedom, and to silence. It is also an indirect source of three duties for historians: the duties to produce expert knowledge about the past, to disseminate it, and to teach about it. I discuss the limits to, and conflicts among, these rights and duties. The "UDHR" also has an impact on historians' subjects of study: I argue that the "UDHR" applies to the living but not to the dead, and that, consequently, it is a compass for studying recent rather than remote historical injustice. Nevertheless, and although it is itself silent about historians' core duties to find and tell the truth, the "UDHR" firmly supports an emerging imprescriptible right to the truth, which in crucial respects is nothing less than a right to history. If the "UDHR" is a "Magna Carta of all men everywhere," it surely is one for all historians.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[20]
    [20]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
21
    21
  • Thumbnail: Page 
22
    22
  • Thumbnail: Page 
23
    23
  • Thumbnail: Page 
24
    24
  • Thumbnail: Page 
25
    25
  • Thumbnail: Page 
26
    26
  • Thumbnail: Page 
27
    27
  • Thumbnail: Page 
28
    28
  • Thumbnail: Page 
29
    29
  • Thumbnail: Page 
30
    30
  • Thumbnail: Page 
31
    31
  • Thumbnail: Page 
32
    32
  • Thumbnail: Page 
33
    33
  • Thumbnail: Page 
34
    34
  • Thumbnail: Page 
35
    35
  • Thumbnail: Page 
36
    36
  • Thumbnail: Page 
37
    37
  • Thumbnail: Page 
38
    38
  • Thumbnail: Page 
39
    39
  • Thumbnail: Page 
40
    40
  • Thumbnail: Page 
41
    41
  • Thumbnail: Page 
42
    42
  • Thumbnail: Page 
43
    43
Part of Sustainability