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Edited by Katie Laatikainen and Karen Smith

Group Politics in UN Multilateralism provides a new perspective on diplomacy and negotiations at the United Nations. Very few states ‘act individually’ at the UN; instead they often work within groups such as the Africa Group, the European Union or the Arab League. States use groups to put forward principled positions in an attempt to influence a wider audience and thus legitimize desired outcomes. Yet the volume also shows that groups are not static: new groups emerge in multilateral negotiations on issues such as climate, security and human rights. At any given moment, UN multilateralism is shaped by long-standing group dynamics as well as shifting, ad-hoc groupings. These intergroup dynamics are key to understanding diplomatic practice at the UN.

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Charlotte Hille

Clan societies differ substantially from Western democratic states. Clan societies are based around the extended family. Honour and solidarity are important, which is reflected in nepotism and blood revenge. However, a more positive aspect of clan societies is the use of reconciliation to solve conflicts. This guarantees that parties to a conflict can cooperate in the future. When intervening in a clan based society it is important to be aware of the differences compared to Western democracy. Based on theory and practice the cases of Afghanistan, Iraq, Albania and Chechnya are investigated. This book explains clan society and provides tools to facilitate state building and democratization in clan based societies for those who intervene, aimed at conflict resolution and democratization.

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Wilfried Zoungrana

No Country for Migrants? Critical Perspectives on Asylum, Immigration, and Integration in Germany aims to critically contribute to ongoing debates about immigration, integration, and xenophobia in Germany. Set against the backdrop of Germany’s controversial political decision to open its borders to refugees in 2015, the book realigns this watershed with the broader historical narratives of migration to explain its exceptionality both as an event and transformative force on the migration/integration discourse. The book further uses critical theories to make sense of the shifting socio-political coordinates of Germany. It addresses the history of Germany’s migration policies, its soft and hard power in migration control, language and societal integration, immigration and the revival of right-wing extremism, as well as religion and immigration.

Linde Lindkvist

This article explores the diplomatic contestations over children’s rights in connection to the International Year of the Child (iyc) of 1979. At the time, the Year was celebrated as an outstanding success, an event which helped to heighten social and political awareness of the status of children in both developing and industrialized countries, and which brought to light a plethora of new global issues, including street children, children with disabilities and children in armed conflict. Today, the iyc is frequently reduced to a plotting point in histories charting the rise of an international discourse of children’s rights, a discourse that is intimately linked to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. This article shows how the concept of children’s rights was of peripheral importance to the overarching purposes of the iyc, which instead revolved around a notion of child welfare as integral to wider projects of social and economic development, either in the form of economic sovereignty or basic needs. The article then revisits the 1978–1979 UN debates on a human rights treaty for children, showing how this project initially garnered minimal support among states, international agencies and non-state actors. The article thus takes issue with teleological accounts that see the iyc primarily as a first step toward the subsequent breakthrough of children’s human rights. It also showcases how historical case studies of UN observances can be fruitful for scholars interested in the clashes and amalgamations of competing concepts and projects at an international level.

Ned Richardson-Little

When the United Nations proclaimed 1968 to be the International Year of Human Rights, the official goal was to promote the adoption of the recently created human rights Covenants around the world. Instead of compelling the Eastern Bloc to accept liberal democratic conceptions of rights, however, it acted as a catalyst for the genesis of state socialist conceptions of human rights. Eastern Bloc elites claimed these rights were superior to those in the West, which they argued was beset by imperialism and racism. Although some within Eastern Europe used the Year as an opportunity to challenge state socialist regimes from within, the UN commemoration gave socialist elites a new language to legitimize the status quo in Eastern Europe and to call for radical anti-imperialism abroad. While dissent in the name of human rights in 1968 was limited, the state socialist embrace of human rights politics provided a crucial step towards the Helsinki Accords of 1975 and the subsequent rise of human rights activism behind the Iron Curtain.

Sam de Schutter

This article argues that writing longer, deeper and wider histories of UN observances can help to push forward the historiography of international organizations, and to overcome global-local dichotomies in writing about international interventions in the Global South. To make this point, it uses one historical case study: the International Year of Disabled Persons (iydp) in 1981 and how it played out in Kenya. The main argument is that this UN observance did not bring about “global” approaches that stood in stark contrast to “local” ways of dealing with disability. Writing a longer history shows how the approaches promoted during the iydp can be traced back to late colonialism; a deeper history shows how this event played out on the ground, rather than on an abstract global level; and a wider history lays bare the broad range of actors involved beyond “the UN.”