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'The Greek case' in the 'age of human rights':
Reciprocal challenges and mutual effects of the Greek Colonels' dictatorship
and the evolution of the international human rights regime

Final Report Summary - GRHR ('The Greek case' in the 'age of human rights':Reciprocal challenges and mutual effects of the Greek Colonels' dictatorshipand the evolution of the international human rights regime)

The Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship, which I was awarded two years ago, enabled me to undertake my fascinating project that deals with the development, resolution and legacies of the human rights crisis that was perpetrated during the Greek Colonels’ dictatorial regime (1967-74). The idea for this project stemmed from my doctoral research, which had brought into my attention the extent of not only British, but also generalised international reaction to the Colonels’ human rights transgressions. This expertise brought the advantage of the familiarity of the historical framework around which my new research evolved; however, in light of the inter-disciplinarity of the new project, a rather large part of the first year of the Fellowship was spent on building specialised knowledge about the mushrooming literature on human rights. This included works on legal and philosophical aspects of human rights, as well as their historical evolution. In addition, I studied in depth more specialised works on aspects of torture and transitional justice, which were both fundamental issues relating to my project’s core themes. In the first year of the fellowship, I also undertook a small amount of teaching in order to familiarise myself with the UK style. In view of the fact that one of the ultimate aims of the Marie Curie Fellowship is to lead to permanent employment, gaining teaching experience in an English university setting was crucial.
During the same period that I was teaching and reviewing the literature, I was also collecting names of several protagonists, whom I deemed of significance to my project. I contacted several of them and was able to kick start a long chain of interviews in the second half of the first year of the fellowship, many of which led me to more contacts resulting thus in a constant stream of interviews that lasted up to the final day of the fellowship. In fact, the conduct of interviews was a tremendously successful undertaking. I managed to interview some of the most high-profile and quintessential personalities for my project, ranging from the UN Commissioner for Human Rights to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, from tortured victims to NGO protagonists and from prominent politicians and the Coup perpetrators to journalists.
In total, I conducted more than 30 interviews, all of which cemented with solid evidence my project’s findings that the Greek case was a pioneer in the international norm cascade against torture and transitional justice trendsetting. My extensive research in multi-lingual archives, whether institutional, national, international or private has highlighted beyond doubt that by cultivating public interest, providing tactics, and shaping priorities, the Colonels’ resisters influenced powerful campaigns that succeeded in identifying torture as the most reviled of all human rights abuses and elevated non-governmental organisations to a powerful factor in international politics.
Another aspect of my Fellowship that has met with absolute success is the archival findings. In the two years of the Fellowship, Ι consulted a long list of archives. The aspect that was highly impressive was gaining access to inaccessible archives, such as those of the Council of Europe, and some recently released, most prominently those of the International Committee of the Red Cross Archives, as well as unearthing unknown ones. Accessing the Council of Europe archives made a truly significant contribution to my project in view of this institution’s central role in the anti-Colonels’ campaign; similarly catalytic were the interviews with its former Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, and with the Council’s official in charge of the Greek case, Peter Leuprecht, as well as consulting the restricted personal archive of the Council’s rapporteur, Max Van der Stoel.
Moreover, the other notable success of the project has been to ‘discover’ a spectacular archive that belonged to one of the most active campaigners against the Colonels’ regime, namely Maria Becket. Her unrelenting activism against them further intensified the codification of the protection of human rights and in the post-Colonels’ period spilled in other fields of transnational activism, such as environmental protection. In fact, I have been entrusted by the activist’s family to explore on their behalf the most suitable institution to deposit this remarkable material of human rights and environmental activism, as well as proto-feminism for the wider benefit of the pertinent scholarly community. They also support my suggestion to set up an exhibition based on her material in 2017 to mark the completion of 50 years since the Colonels’ coming to power in 1967.
In light of the aforementioned occasion that will surely attract a considerable amount of attention, it will be my intention to make use of it to maximize my project findings’ impact. I currently have three articles in the pipeline, which I will submit over the next couple of months with the intention of getting them published in 2017. Cambridge University Press has already endorsed my detailed book proposal, which I submitted to them last year and invited me to submit my monograph by the end of the next academic year; meanwhile, Harvard Professor of Law, Samuel Moyn, editor of the CUP’s series Human Rights in History has confirmed that my book is ‘truly important’. I also plan to contribute to the major Greek newspapers and get in touch with the BBC. Indeed, the timeliness of my project cannot be overemphasised; even a cursory glance at the daily news demonstrates its obvious relevance to current affairs. Moreover, I intend to organise a symposium/workshop depending on the availability of funding on the legacies of the Greek Colonels’ authoritarian regime to mark the forthcoming anniversary. It is also noteworthy that in the course of the fellowship, I received invitations to participate in symposia and give talks both nationally and internationally, testifying thus both to the originality and significance of my project’s findings.
Such initiatives will aim at transforming the transfer of knowledge to utilisation of knowledge. In a nutshell, by preserving the specificities of the acts of remembrance, my historical account of the Greek human rights crisis will contribute to converting human rights concerns from norm into practice, from a modus apparatus to a modus vivendi. Moreover, by shedding light on the relevance of human rights to processes of state reconstruction, transitional justice, democratisation and foreign policy-making in a little-studied, yet topical, part of Europe, my publications will prove to be of importance for the study of phenomena both with an unwritten history in these mushrooming fields of scholarship and clear contemporary echoes.