December 10th marks the 69th anniversary of United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since 1948, Muslim scholars and leaders have both enthusiastically embraced the concept of human rights and criticized the biases of the UDHR. And, like most countries around the world, Muslim-majority states have signed on to certain UDHR provisions while rejecting others – making it impossible to enforce key protections for vulnerable populations.
Andrea Stanton, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Denver, will explain the story behind the UDHR and the few Muslim voices involved in its creation. She’ll explain the impact of later efforts by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and by the 1990 Cairo Declaration to assert Islam’s support for the concept of human rights – as well as human responsibilities. She’ll look at the limits of all these efforts, which – like most UN initiatives – require state-level enforcement. How has the discourse of human rights been used to support authoritarian regimes in Muslim-majority countries? What role should we expect to see for human rights given the current political crackdowns in the Middle East? Can religion play a positive role in supporting human rights protections in Muslim-majority countries?
Her primary research focuses on media and national or religious identity, among Muslims in the Arab world and the US. Her first book, This is Jerusalem Calling: State Radio in Mandate Palestine, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2013. She has received grants from the American Academy of Religion, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the US Institute of Peace. She obtained her MA and PhD in Middle Eastern history from Columbia University, and her BA from Williams College.