Samuel Moyn, in his work The Last Utopia, argues that, at its core, the anticolonial movement was not a human rights struggle, writing, “If anticolonialism generally spurned human rights, one might say, it was because it was a rights of man movement, with all the prior fidelity to the state that concept implied in modern history.” Moyn’s emphasis on the state here is telling. Because the rights that a nation could provide were particular to its citizens, not international, they could not be human rights. The “rights of man” were not the rights of all. Further, Moyn views the concept of self-determination as an idea that had to be taken over by human rights. As he states, “Self-determination would have to give way to human rights.” Through this, it can be seen that he does away with the idea that self-determination and human rights could coexist together. Rather, for human rights to succeed, self-determination had to fail. Between Moyn’s dismissal of the state as a vehicle to enable the development of human rights to his argument that self-determination and human rights were two concepts that would have to vie for implementation, it is evident that he does not regard decolonization as a human rights struggle.
Lynn Hunt, while still criticizing the impact of decolonization on human rights, does not go as far as Moyn in her argument. To Hunt, the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 was the epitome of progress towards an international, universal