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Educational internationalism, universal human rights, and international organisation: International Relations in the thought and practice of Robert Owen

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2013


Robert Owen, the early nineteenth-century social reformer, made a greatly more significant contribution to the theory and practice of International Relations than has hitherto been assumed. This article shows how Owen helped to develop an understudied but distinctive form of internationalist thought focusing on the role of education in the pursuit of peace. Owen's previously neglected contributions to human rights norms and to international organisation are also explored, including his promotion of universal rather than nationally-oriented human rights standards, his role in the nascent movement towards the formation of international non-governmental organisations, and his contribution to international federalist ideas. Following an introduction to Owen's place in the literature, this article discusses each of these contributions of Owen to the theory and practice of International Relations in turn. The analysis reveals that Owen's contributions in each of these aspects are as significant for their limitations as for their insights.

Copyright © British International Studies Association 2013 

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