Remembering Vojin Dimitrijević’s Words and His Topical Book “Reign of Terror – A Study on Human Rights and State Terror”

July 9, 2020

Vojin Dimitrijević, a law professor, intellectual, eminent champion of human rights and democracy and long-standing Director of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, was born on this day 9 July 1932. We recall what he said in his book “Reign of Terror – A Study on Human Rights and State Terror,” which is just as topical today as it was when he wrote it in 1984.

Vojin D_eng-01

Having once written a book on terrorism as a method of political struggle against government, I was left with the impression that the terror exercised by those in power was in fact more dangerous, that it took much more innocent victims, that it diminished human dignity much more and that its existence was a permanent threat to society. This terror, however, remained for the most part neglected, not only by me – but in academic literature in general. Lawyers, in particular, due to dilemmas both contrived and real – an issue that will be discussed further – have done precious little in contributing to the understanding of and clarifying the existence of the reign of fear.

It is clear, beyond any doubt, that a study of this length can only concern the governance through and by introduction of fear and anxiety as a political method alone. Such analysis requires generalization, through identification of the common traits of modern reigns of fear, which are in the focus of this study, and their comparison to occurrences in the past. I recognize that this approach may be contested as ahistorical, since it does not always take into account all the specific and unique circumstances and causes. However, to fully yield to such a remark would mean that the science of politics, as an attempt to establish certain general concepts and determine universal rules, is impossible. That risk, therefore, is one that has to be taken.

Belgrade, 15 November 1984

We should read “Reign of Terror” and refuse to live in it! 

“Reign of Terror” is available in PDF at: