Rights at War: British Counterinsurgency in Cyprus, Aden, and Northern Ireland Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • Drohan, Brian
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This study analyzes the role of human rights activism during three post-1945 British counterinsurgency campaigns in Cyprus (1955-1959), Aden (1963-1967), and the Northern Ireland “Troubles” (emphasizing 1969-1976). Based on material gathered from 15 archives in four countries as well as oral history records and personal papers, this study demonstrates that human rights activism shaped British operational decisions during each of these conflicts. Activists mobilized ideas of human rights to restrain counterinsurgency violence by defining certain British actions as illegal or morally unjustifiable. Although British forces often prevented activists from restraining state violence, activists forced government officials and military commanders to develop new ways of covering up human rights abuses. Focusing the analytical lens on activists and the officials with whom they interacted places rights activists on the counterinsurgency “battlefield” not as traditional arms-bearing combatants, but as actors who nonetheless influenced warfare by shaping military decisions.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Aydin, Cemil
  • Larres, Klaus
  • Lee, Wayne
  • Pennybacker, Susan
  • Morgan, Michael
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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