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International law: origins & history: Rights

Humanitarianism & human rights protection

Humanitarian Law

The moral/philosophical/religious/humane need to control war & its aftermath has been recognized and considered at least at a theoretical level for centuries. (Classic terminology is to consider the problem in three parts "ad bellum" (in what circumstances can war be justified?), "in bello" (what rules to apply during combat) and "post bellum" (what can be done to alleviate the aftermath)
Even so the international judicalization (war crimes trials) only became significant feature of international law in the 20th century.

Pritchard, R. John. “International Humanitarian Intervention and Establishment of an International Jurisdiction over Crimes Against Humanity: The National and International Military Trials on Crete in 1898.” In International Humanitarian Law. Vol. 1, Origins. Edited by John Carey, William V. Dunlap, and R. John Pritchard, 1–88. Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 2003. Internat 570 C274b

Dadrian, Vahakn N. “Genocide as a Problem of National and International Law: The World War I Armenian Case and Its Contemporary Legal Ramifications.” Yale Journal of International Law 14 (1989): 221–334. (Holders of an Oxford SSO can read this article online via HeinOnline, Westlaw, or LexisLibrary.)

International Human Rights

".... international law supported and colluded in many of the worst human rights atrocities, including the Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism ..."

Frans Viljoen, 'International Human Rights Law: A Short History' UN Chronicle (2009) 46 [http://unchronicle.un.org/article/international-human-rights-law-short-history/

Ending of slave trade

".... It was only in the nineteenth century that the international community adopted a treaty abolishing slavery.'

Frans Viljoen, 'International Human Rights Law: A Short History' UN Chronicle (2009) 46 [http://unchronicle.un.org/article/international-human-rights-law-short-history/

Declaration of the Eight Courts Relative to the Universal Abolition of the Slave Trade of 8 February 1815 (63 CTS 473)

(The eight were Austria, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Spain, and Sweden)

Redman, Renee C ‘The League of Nations and the Right to Be Free From Enslavement: The First Human Right to Be Recognized as Customary International Law’ (1994) 70 Chicago-Kent Law Review 759–802 (Holders of an Oxford SSO can read this article online via HeinOnline, Westlaw, or LexisLibrary.)

J Allain ‘Slavery and the League of Nations: Ethiopia as a Civilised Nation’ (2006) 8 Journal of the History of International Law 213–44. Holders of an Oxford SSO can read this article online via HeinOnline or Brill.)

Subject searches to use in SOLO
Slavery -- Law and legislation -- History

Antislavery movements -- History

or if you have a geographic interest you can adapt eg
Antislavery movements -- Great Britain -- History

Human rights -- History

Minority rights & self-determination

'After the First World War, tentative attempts were made to establish a human rights system under the League of Nations. For example, a Minority Committee was established to hear complaints from minorities, and a Mandates Commission was put in place to deal with individual petitions of persons living in mandate territories. However, these attempts had not been very successful and came to an abrupt end when the Second World War erupted.'

Frans Viljoen, 'International Human Rights Law: A Short History' UN Chronicle (2009) 46 [http://unchronicle.un.org/article/international-human-rights-law-short-history/

Break up of Empires & Decolonization

United States Declaration of Independence
19th century - 
WW1 aftermath
WW2 aftermath

MPEPIL has entry called 
Decolonization

​But also has separate entries as below (which will take you into the post 1945 world)
Decolonization: Belgian Territories
DecolonizationBritish Territories
Decolonization: Dutch Territories
Decolonization: French Territories 
DecolonizationGerman Territories
Decolonization: Portuguese Territories

Decolonization: Spanish Territories

Among other terms for which MPEPIL will provide useful introductions/definitions are 
Self-determination, 
Secession, State-hood, Sovereignty

Workers' rights

'The first international legal standards were adopted under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which was founded in 1919 as part of the Peace Treaty of Versailles. ILO is meant to protect the rights of workers in an ever-industrializing world.'

Frans Viljoen, 'International Human Rights Law: A Short History' UN Chronicle (2009) 46 [http://unchronicle.un.org/article/international-human-rights-law-short-history/