Author Archives: Jessica Whyte

About Jessica Whyte

Jessica Whyte is Scientia Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, with a cross-appointment in the Faculty of Law. Her work integrates political philosophy, intellectual history and political economy to analyse contemporary forms of sovereignty, human rights, humanitarianism and militarism. She is author of Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben, (SUNY 2013) and The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism (Verso, 2019) and an editor of Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development.

Human Shields and the Politics of Humanity

This essay is part of a symposium on Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini’s Human Shields. All contributions to the symposium can be found here. It is a real pleasure to comment on this excellent book on the history, law, and politics of human shields. Throughout the book, Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini argue that the human shield brings into relief many of the political and social dynamics of our societies. The book throws light on a humanity that is always internally-riven and hierarchically-ordered. Humans, the Continue reading →

Just War, History and Conflict: A Response

This post is part of a symposium on Jessica Whyte’s essay “The ‘Dangerous Concept of the Just War.’” All contributions to the symposium can be found here. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to engage with the questions posed by these astute and thoughtful responses to my work. Those questions are as numerous as they are provocative, and here I focus on several themes that allow me to bring into sharper focus and extend the claims of my original essay. That essay challenges moralizing Continue reading →

The “Dangerous Concept of the Just War”: Decolonization, Wars of National Liberation, and the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions

Abstract: In 2002, the North American political theorist Michael Walzer announced the “triumph of just war theory,” which he saw as evidence of moral progress. This paper challenges Walzer’s progressive narrative by turning to the often-acrimonious debates about just and unjust wars during the drafting of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. I show that during the International Committee of the Red Cross’s “Diplomatic Conference on the Laws of War” (1974-77) it was the Third World and Soviet states that used the language of Continue reading → Continue reading →

The Fortunes of Natural Man: Robinson Crusoe, Political Economy, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“What is at stake here,” the Lebanese United Nations delegate Charles Malik wrote of the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), “is the determination of the nature of man.”1 As a student of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, Malik was intensely attuned to the philosophical significance of the attempt to formulate a list of basic rights.2 Reflecting on his own participation in the drafting process, Malik, who drafted the declaration’s preamble, noted that this posed three central questions: Is man an animal Continue reading → Continue reading →