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  3. Human Rights Advocacy

Human Rights Advocacy (LAWS70186)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70186
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is a collaborative effort to reflect on, critique, appreciate, and learn about international advocacy that responds to global injustice using a human rights framework. It provides a map of the field of international human rights advocacy—its dominant forms of action, strategies, and range of methods—and introduces students to the core elements and skills involved in that work, including the collection of evidence of human rights abuses; interviewing witnesses, governments and other potential opponents; report writing; media work; advocacy strategies; quantitative and qualitative methods; litigation; and measuring effectiveness. The subject also introduces the ethical principles and professional rules related to human rights lawyering. It addresses the obstacles to effective global justice and human rights work, and the technical, procedural, and substantive problems with the manner in which advocates investigate abuses, seek accountability, and conduct advocacy. Teaching materials are drawn from a diverse range of fields and interdisciplinary sources including law, medicine, psychology, political science, social theory, critical theory, toolkits and how-to-guides, stories, video, podcasts, human rights reports, and witness testimony. The success of the subject depends, to a great extent, on the active, engaged, and critical participation of students. The subject will be of interest to students whose work already intersects with human rights directly or to students who wish to explore ways to further inject human rights into their work. It is designed to be of relevance to students whether they are working within Australia, other countries or at the international level.

The subject will examine human rights law and institutions; ethics for human rights lawyers; crafting strategy; fact-finding (including interviewing, documentation, open source investigations, and quantitative and qualitative research methods); and advocacy methods (including reporting, campaigning, messaging, and litigating).

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Be able to articulate the core elements of the rights-based approach to advocacy, fact-finding, and advocacy, including the ethical commitment to community-based lawyering
  • Develop an understanding of the practical skills necessary to make use of human rights standards in framing of issues, fact-finding and investigations, advocacy, and litigation (the capacity to invoke human rights at the domestic and international levels to promote or respond to the development of legislation, the design and implementation of public policy, and the practice of corporations and other businesses)
  • Be aware of the strategic and technical limitations in using human rights standards in litigation and advocacy initiatives at the domestic and international levels
  • Possess the legal research skills necessary to identify the meaning and content of human rights standards as developed by international, regional and domestic courts, tribunals and other human rights bodies
  • Have the capacity to identify when a human rights issue arises on the facts of a particular case and possess the skills necessary to identify the strategies available for the protection of that right at both the domestic and international level.


Last updated: 20 July 2019