Rybna 9, Praha 1: Restitution and Memory in International Human Rights Law

24 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2004

See all articles by Patrick Macklem

Patrick Macklem

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2004


The history of Rybna 9, Praha 1 - a building in the old city of Prague - illustrates how international human rights law, producing new forms of legal right and obligation, participates in the turbulence of modernity. With its capacity to remember the past through the discourse of human rights, international law engages and formalizes a politics of collective memory. This article explores the relationship between international human rights law and collective memory in the context of challenges to post-communist restitution initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe. Rybna 9 formed the basis of one such challenge before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Other restitution cases have proceeded to the European Court of Human Rights. Whereas the Human Rights Committee is willing to remember certain pasts as a matter of equality, the European Court of Human Rights approaches equality with a modernist impulse to repudiate history. This divergence is especially acute when comparing how the field engages the collective memories of Jews and the Holocaust and those of Sudeten Germans after the war. International legal engagement with the politics of collective memory thereby reflects broader debates about the emergent nature of European citizenship.

Keywords: international human rights, equality, international law, restitution, collective memory, postcommunist transition, European human rights

Suggested Citation

Macklem, Patrick, Rybna 9, Praha 1: Restitution and Memory in International Human Rights Law (November 1, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=617022 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.617022

Patrick Macklem (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
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