Nordic Human Rights History Network

The network assembles scholars with an interest in how the concept of human rights has operated in the Nordic countries and their foreign policies since the international human rights system emerged in the 1940s.

About the Network

The network encourages multi-archive studies of Nordic human rights histories. In the recent surge of works on the history of human rights, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are often referred to as examples of leading forces for the development of aspects of international human rights, such as the early ratification of the ECHR, protection of refugees, same sex marriage, women’s rights and indigenous rights.

Some mention Scandinavian countries as significant providers of funding for human rights activism and the active involvement of Nordic non-governmental groups in international politics since the 1970s, such as in the aftermath of the Chilean coup. Yet others have noted that this enthusiasm for global human rights has been coupled with hesitancy towards recognizing human rights as principles with domestic relevance.

However, these assessments offer only ephemeral mentions of the Nordic states’ relation to human rights developments, and they have so far triggered few fine-grained contextual accounts. Hardly any studies are based on Nordic archival materials. To date, we have only a few studies on when and how the Nordic states began to employ human rights as a device in their foreign policies. The same is true for when and to what extent human rights eventually has evolved into a topic of domestic politics in the Nordic countries.

The network emerged from a workshop in Helsinki in August 2015. Coordinated by Uppsala University’s Linde Lindkvist, University of Helsinki’s Johan Strang and University of Oslo’s Hanne Hagtvedt Vik, the network organizes panels and workshops on various aspects of the import of human rights norms in Nordic local and national contexts, as well as the significance of Nordic actors in international human rights diplomacy.

Published Aug. 25, 2021 10:54 AM - Last modified Aug. 25, 2021 10:54 AM


Hanne Hagtvedt Vik, University of Oslo

Linde Lindkvist, University College Stockholm

Johan Strang, Helsinki University