Critical Reflections on Universal Human Rights Discourses in the Context of National Conflicts over Cyprus

PhD Thesis

Hamit, M. 2022. Critical Reflections on Universal Human Rights Discourses in the Context of National Conflicts over Cyprus. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Business and Law
AuthorsHamit, M.
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis seeks to explain the intractability of the Cyprus conflict through an exploration of the connection between national narratives and claims to self-determination. In Cyprus nationalism was constituted differently for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. For the former, it was the struggle for Enosis (union with Greece) whereas the latter strove for Taksim (partition of the island). However, from the human rights perspective, both communities used the common term of self-determination. In a contradictory manner, the universal claim to self-determination has come to divide rather than unite Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Taking a cue from Edward Said, the thesis suggests, that the ‘gravity of history inflects legal claims.’ While critical legal studies have been much concerned with the rhetoric of human rights, this work sets out to analyze the emergence of discourses about self-determination in the context of key anti-colonial moments between 1878 and 1960. These are the repressed dimensions of British colonialism in Cyprus which hang heavily over the present but are often underestimated by current politicians, international negotiators and various interlocutors. The analysis suggests that each community saw the other as attempting to veto their right to self-determination. Thus, appeals to universal human rights, such as self-determination, far from advancing conflict resolution can be a factor that exacerbates conflict. The form in which anti-colonialism took place has influenced the actions and attitudes of the leaders and peoples of both communities in all generations. The selected anti-colonial moments are reconstructed through reference to archival material and academic works of history and politics.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online14 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Submitted05 Sep 2022
Deposited14 Oct 2022
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