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This module introduces students to international and regional systems for the protection of human rights. What is the international human rights system for, and how does it work? Whose rights does it serve to protect? What rights? What are the ideological, political and economic barriers to the realisation of rights? Is there a hierarchy of rights? Can or should rights be constructed as ‘universal’? What allowance should be made for cultural differences across the globe? Should certain vulnerable groups be guaranteed special protections?
The module covers the various pathways for the enforcement of human rights at national, regional and international levels, in order to understand how these various jurisdictions attempt to curb state and corporate power and to bolster rights protection. It examines the different categories of human rights that have been constructed – civil & political rights, socio-economic rights, cultural rights, religious rights; individual and communal rights – and analyses the international treaties and conventions and judicial interpretations that have contributed to the evolution of human rights jurisprudence. The ultimate aim of the module is to ground students in the academic and policy debates in the dynamic field of international human rights law and practice, and to help students to develop the tools and thinking necessary to understand and apply the normative and doctrinal principles of human rights law, as well as to reflect critically on the possibilities and limits of human rights discourse.