Roland Burke


On his book Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights

Cover Interview of July 25, 2010

Editor’s note

Originally, this interview ran on the Rorotoko cover page under the headline

“Universal human rights were an integral part of decolonization—not oppression.”

We highlighted two quotes.

On the first page:

“I recover the story of those battles fought to make human rights truly universal, to outlaw racial discrimination, and discredit the eloquent excuses of colonialism.  Then the book illuminates the depressing reversal of that universality, as the post-colonial world lapsed into the kind of authoritarianism it had once struggled against.”

On the second:

“Far from being the handmaiden of imperialism, universality was, in fact, the prime weapon of those representatives who sought the end of colonial rule. Universal human rights were an integral part of decolonization—exalted as a set of ideas for liberation, not oppression.”