The Eastern Bloc, Human Rights, and the Global Fight against Apartheid

In: East Central Europe

Anti-apartheid advocacy allowed Eastern Bloc countries to reframe their ideological language of solidarity towards African countries into a legalist rhetoric during the 1960s and 70s. Support for international anti-racial discrimination law and self-determination from colonial rule reinforced their ties to Africa after the disenchantment of the Hungarian Uprising. Rights activism against apartheid showcased the socialist Bloc’s active contribution to the international rise of human rights language and international law during the Cold War. By the mid-1970s, however, international rights engagement became problematic for most Eastern European states, and dissidents at home eventually appropriated the term apartheid based on decades of state-mandated international rights activism to criticise socialism.

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