Picking Battles: Race, Decolonization, and Apartheid

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Race is one of the more ubiquitous, yet least explored, shifts in twentieth-century international law. From law that was founded in key areas and concepts on racial distinctions, international law quickly came to denounce various manifestations of race theories and racial discrimination. The establishment of the UN reflected a racialized understanding of the international society assumptions of the League of Nations mandate system. The 1948 Universal Declaration addressed entitlement to human rights without distinction of race, yet the Genocide Convention extended protection to racial (identity of) minority groups. In South Africa, race policies provided both the impetus and multiple occasions for formulating claims about a new, de-racialized international law from 1946 onwards. At these struggles against apartheid, binary political confrontations could take form as competing visions of international law, both old and new. This chapter charts the sites of contestation over apartheid and its effects on international law.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Battle for International Law
Subtitle of host publicationSouth-North Perspectives on the Decolonization Era
EditorsJochen von Bernstorff, Philipp Dann
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
ISBN (Electronic)9780191883927
ISBN (Print)9780198849636
StatePublished - 21 Oct 2019

Publication series

NameHistory and theory of international law
PublisherOxford University Press


  • history of international law
  • decolonization
  • racism
  • apartheid
  • mandate system
  • United Nations
  • human rights
  • genocide
  • anti-Semitism
  • Israel
  • Public International Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Picking Battles: Race, Decolonization, and Apartheid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this