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The relationship between human rights and economic globalisation has taken different forms since the establishment of the United Nations. The early period was animated by the codification of economic, social and cultural rights, and third generation solidarity rights, including peoples’ rights to permanent sovereignty over natural resources. From the 1980s onwards, economic globalisation and the normative, legal and institutional means by which it would be advanced became dominant globally, with the negative influences of international trade and investment shaping the development of human rights. In the recent period, human rights have been situated as a response to many of the concerns around economic globalisation. With a focus on social-economic rights, this course will engage with human rights under conditions of economic globalisation, from their normative and institutional beginnings to their recent application as bulwarks against current threats.
Principal topics include:
- The post-1945 United Nations Charter international order and its relationship to developments in economic globalisation
- International protection of economic, social and cultural rights (standards and mechanisms, including the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
- Third generation solidarity rights: right to development, permanent sovereignty over natural resources and economic self-determination, and their political and economic context
- Global capitalism and the shaping of rights.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Understand the approach, contribution and limits of the UN human rights machinery as well as regional human rights standards and mechanisms in addressing the harms of economic globalisation;
- Develop an understanding of how the content of socio-economic rights and obligations has been interpreted and applied under economic globalisation, eg: extraterritorial obligations, human rights impact assessment;
- Be able to assess and critically evaluate current developments, eg: responses to the financial crisis, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the 'business and human rights' agenda;
- Have a highly developed understanding of the key debates among various actors and international institutions that drive economic globalisation, including in the areas of international trade and investment;
- Be exposed to literature and critical reflection from a range of cognate disciplines, such as economics, international political economy, and development studies helping students to understand what dominant perspectives and values shape globalisation and with what implications for human well-being, redistribution and justice.
Last updated: 30 January 2024