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Global human rights law plays a complex role in international society. Human rights often frame national and international discussions about justice and fairness – sometimes to the detriment of any other language or approach. Formally inaugurated with the founding of the United Nations in 1945, the international human rights system comprises multiple institutions, declarations, treaties, court cases and practices. It is fair to say that human rights law has been both a source of great inspiration as well as profound disappointment. This subject aims to introduce students to the legal principles, institutions, and questions, at the heart of the global human rights system and to consider why the language of human rights remains powerful, while also examining its key challenges and critiques in the present. It also aims to move beyond a singular/narrow understanding of global human rights by introducing the students to several (rival) historical projects of global human rights law, including a Third World one.
The subject will consider current issues in global human rights law including:
- The history and institutional structure of the United Nations human rights system
- Different traditions of human rights
- Debates about, and techniques of, implementation of human right obligations
- Regional human rights systems
- Australia’s local translation of international human rights standards
- Human rights and Global Corporations
- Human rights, non-discrimination, and intersectionality
- Indigenous peoples and human rights
- Human rights, global inequality, and redistributive justice
- The human rights of asylum seekers and stateless persons
- Human rights and the Environment Debates about human rights universality
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed the subject should have:
- Obtained a general knowledge of the international human rights legal instruments and institutions
- Acquired an understanding of various theoretical and historical approaches to human rights
- Developed a capacity to identify accountability for human rights in contemporary events
- Analysed and applied human rights law in a range of current contexts
- Developed advocacy skills through the application of human rights law to current social problems; and
- Understood both the potential and limits of global law and institutions in responding to human rights abuses, through developing the skill of critical evaluation..
- On completion of this subject, students should have developed skills in: • Reading inter-disciplinary material in preparation for class; • Analysing conceptual and practical human rights problems through a legal lens; • Using legal norms as the basis for advocacy; • Writing clearly for assignments; and • Verbal communication through group discussions in tutorials.
Last updated: 2 December 2023