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Hee Ko (University of California)
One War is Not Enough: The Convergent Legacies of The French Revolution and World War II during the French-Algerian War
Hee Ko, in her paper, “Judgments of Torture in Algeria,” looks at how French jurist René Cassin, principal architect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1949), and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1968), remained paradoxically silent regarding the French state’s use of torture in Algeria. As a French Jew who had lost members of his family in concentration camps and as legal advisor to Charles De Gaulle during World War II, Cassin worked tirelessly to secure human rights using the vocabulary of the French Revolution and French Resistance. Ko shows, however, through the analysis of Cassin’s speeches and private correspondence how personal memory and republican ideology constrained juridical judgment. Although prior to the war, Cassin had worked to condemn colonial inequalities, especially in Algeria, he was hesitant to censure torture. In particular, Ko looks at the 1958 decision by Conseil d’État, over which he presided, on the legality of internment camps in Algeria. In this decision, he ruled that the camps were legal.
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