1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Human Rights in Asia: Current Issues

Human Rights in Asia: Current Issues (LAWS90122)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2018 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks
You’re currently viewing the 2018 version of this subject


Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90122
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject examines current human rights issues in Asia, with particular attention to East and Southeast Asia. Human rights is a deeply contested concept, particularly in the countries of East and Southeast Asia where there is ongoing debate over which rights are to be recognised and the ways in which these rights might be given effect.

In this subject we will investigate the way human rights issues are named, framed, and contested within – and sometimes across – Asian states. We will examine domestic institutions, rules, policies and practices concerning human rights, and investigate how rights claimants and their advocates (including lawyers and civil society groups) seek to challenge and broaden the state understandings of human rights, which often give priority to security and development. All subject materials will be in English and no knowledge of an Asian language is required, but of course students are encouraged to use non-English research materials as appropriate.

Principal topics for class discussion will include:

  • The ongoing debates about the meaning and scope of human rights
  • Domestic institutions for the promotion and protection of rights
  • Mobilisation for human rights: the role of civil society and the legal profession
  • Struggles over socio-economic rights
  • Environmental rights claims in developing states
  • Gender and sexuality rights
  • Expressive rights and control of the media
  • The contested meanings of freedom of belief

Student research papers may investigate additional or different topics.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • Possess an integrated and advanced understanding of the tensions between rights, development and security within select Asian jurisdictions
  • Possess a deep and sophisticated understanding of the influences of political, social, cultural and economic factors upon the recognition of human rights in specific Asian jurisdictions
  • Have a sophisticated understanding of the capacity of domestic institutions to defend, enforce or extend human rights in specific jurisdictions, and the reasons for difficulties they encounter in doing so
  • Have a detailed and advanced understanding of role and limits of civil society organisations and other non-state actors in engaging the state over human rights, and be able to critically asses the reasons for their successes or failures
  • Possess the cognitive and technical skills necessary to work with a high degree of autonomy, and to produce both critical and creative ideas concerning the tensions between competing rights claims, and between rights claimants and specific Asian states
  • Have developed the communication skills to clearly and convincingly articulate complex information and lucidly argued propositions about human rights issues in specific social, cultural and legal contexts to specialist audiences.

Last updated: 29 March 2019