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This module introduces students to the international legal framework for the protection of human rights. It reviews and critiques the framework and explains how the international human rights system operates. It queries the nature and scope of the rights protected under the framework and assesses how the rights can be implemented domestically. It asks if human rights are universal, or if cultural relativism applies, and also focuses, to an extent, on the regional protection of human rights.
The module provides an overview of the international human rights law framework, including international treaties and enforcement mechanisms. It covers the human rights framework of the United Nations, as has been inspired by the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition to providing an overview of the international human rights legal system, the module will focus on a number of specific rights, including the right to life, the prohibition on torture, cultural rights and the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples. The module assesses how international human rights standards can be implemented domestically, and queries how States deal with their human rights obligations. The ultimate aim of the module is to provide students with a strong grounding in the international human rights law framework as well as the main academic and policy debates in this dynamic field. It will help students to develop the tools and critical thinking necessary to understand and apply the normative and doctrinal principles of human rights law to actual human rights crises, and to critique the current human rights legal framework and practice with reference to policy debates and academic commentary.
Any aspect of this module may be changed in any given academic year, subject to the discretion of the module lecturer.
Indicative topic list:
1. Introduction to International Human Rights Law
2. The UN Human Rights Law Framework
3. Civil and Political Rights
4. Social Economic and Cultural Rights
5. Group Rights, including the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
6. Regional Human Rights Systems
7. The Protection of Human Rights during Armed Conflict
8. The Enforcement of the International Human Rights Law Framework