Astor Visiting Lecture: Why is There No Global Racial Equality Norm? Power, Principle and Prejudice in the Origins of Multilateralism

Convener: Professor Kate Sullivan de Estrada

Speaker: Professor Amitav Acharya (American University)

Please note change of venue: This lecture will now take place in the Pavilion Room at St Antony's College (not the Investcorp Lecture Theatre as previously advertised)

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Why did global racial equality not become a central principle of the multilateral framework of international order that emerged from the ashes of the Second World War? This lecture will address this question, drawing on the speaker’s previous theoretical work on norms and his new research comparing the discussion of race, human rights and world order at the San Francisco Conference of 1945 and the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung in 1955. 1945, credited as the foundational moment of the supposedly open and inclusive Liberal International Order, suppressed racial equality, while 1955 made it the central organizing principle of world order. Power matters, but prejudice matters even more in the origins, diffusion and suppression of international norms. Despite subsequent advances within the human rights regime, the idea of global racial equality remains unfulfilled, with implications for the future of world order as powerful challenges confront the Liberal International Order.

Amitav Acharya is Distinguished Professor of International Relations, & The UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance, School of International Service, American University, Washington D.C. His recent books include: Constructing Global Order: Agency and Change in World Politics (Cambridge 2018). This special lecture forms part of Prof. Acharya’s activities as an Astor Visiting Lecturer in May 2022.