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Vortrag: P.C. Chang and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: A Forgotten Human Rights Hero

09.05.2019 | 12:00 c.t.

Hans Roth (Stockholm)


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the world’s best-known and most translated documents. When it was presented to the UN General Assembly in December in 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the writing group, called it a new “Magna Carta for all mankind”. The passage of time has shown Roosevelt to have been largely correct in her prediction as to the Declaration’s importance. No other document in the world today can claim a comparable standing in the international community.

One person that played a crucial role in the drafting process was the vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission Peng Chun Chang (1892–1957), a Chinese diplomat and philosopher whose contribution has been the focus of growing attention in recent years. Indeed, it is Chang who deserves the credit for the universality and religious neutrality that are now regarded as the Declaration’s defining features. Chang often stated that human rights are for everyone not just Western people. Despite the importance of Chang´s work, his extraordinary contribution was overlooked for many years by historians of the Declaration.

Peng Chun Chang was a modern-day Renaissance man with many strings to his bow – teacher, university professor, playwright, director and diplomat. A true cosmopolitan, he was deeply involved in the cultural exchange between East and West, and the dramatic events of his life left a profound mark upon his intellectual and political work. P.C. Chang and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the first biography of this extraordinary actor upon the world stage. Drawing upon previously unknown sources, it casts new light upon Chang’s multifaceted life and involvement with one of history’s most important documents.

The author Hans Ingvar Roth, Professor of Human Rights at the Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, will highlight some of the most important contributions of P.C. Chang to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He will also describe crucial events in Chang´s dramatic life.

Hans Ingvar Roth is professor of human rights at the Institute of Turkish Studies (SUITS) at Stockholm University. He holds a PhD in Ethics from Lund University, a Master of Letters in Philosophy from University of Oxford (Pembroke College), a B.A. in Political Science, Philosophy, Peace and Conflict Studies from Uppsala University and a M.A in History and Religious Studies from Stockholm University. Roth is also docent (associate professor) in Ethics from Lund University.

He has written extensively on human rights from a philosophical and historical perspective, affirmative action, the intellectual history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, minority rights, multicultural education and epistemology. His most recent book is ”P.C. Chang and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (2018) (University of Pennsylvania Press.) This is the first biography and monograph outside China on the diplomat and the philosopher Peng Chun Chang (1892-1957) who was a key drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the person who initiated the World Health Organization. Roth´s main current research interests are the intellectual history of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, discrimination and human rights, religion and politics in Turkey.

Website: https://www.su.se/english/profiles/hanrot-1.195419

Zeit & Ort

09.05.2019 | 12:00 c.t.

Neubau "Holzlaube", 2.2051