International Human Rights Law: Prospects and Challenges

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This course analyzes the international and domestic laws and institutions that protect the fundamental rights of all human beings. The course also describes and evaluates the principal mechanisms and strategies for holding governments accountable for violating those rights.

Students engage with thought-provoking issues that arise at the intersection of human dignity, state sovereignty, and international justice.  Cutting-edge topics include: genocide and humanitarian intervention, the right to life and capital punishment, the right to health and HIV-AIDS, counterterrorism, and LGBT rights.  Students also learn about the international, regional and national mechanisms for monitoring government conduct and redressing violations of human rights, such as United Nations political and expert bodies, international courts, domestic criminal prosecutions, and truth commissions.


Week 1 – What are human rights?

Week 2 – Which human rights are protected in international law?

Week 3 – How are human rights implemented and enforced? – Global Mechanisms

Week 4 – How are human rights implemented and enforced? – Regional Mechanisms

Week 5 – How are human rights implemented and enforced? – National Mechanisms

Week 6 – What are some current and future human rights challenges?