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This subject introduces students to the history, theory, goals and practice of international human rights. It will explore the way in which various disciplines intersect and contribute to an understanding of the extent to which human rights can contribute to global justice. Teachers and practitioners provide competing (and complementary) perspectives on key human rights themes including: the origins of human rights; universal rights versus cultural difference; the relationship between civil/political rights and economic/social rights; causes of human rights abuses; the role of states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations in protecting and promoting human rights, and methods of implementation. Specific human rights case studies that are used to investigate these broad themes will be drawn from issues such as: state-sanctioned torture; foreign aid and development; humanitarian intervention; refugees; human trafficking; human rights and climate change; the relationship between bioethics and human rights; the rights of groups and communities; poverty; and the role of scientific methods and tools in implementation.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be:
- exposed to conceptual debates around human rights that are foundational to liberalism and liberal internationalism.
- exposed to human rights 'practitioners': lawyers, advocates, community leaders, international and domestic government officials, and politicians.
- given not only a sense of how individual disciplines (such as law, science, politics and history) separately approach a particular issue, but also how they can work together.
Students successfully completing this subject will develop high-level skills in the following areas:
- Critical research and analysis, based on an understanding of the relationship between the disciplines of politics, law and history;
- Research essay writing;
- Oral communication and argument; and
- Ability to engage with, and begin to resolve, the practical dilemmas facing advocates, lawyers, governors and administrators in the field of human rights.
Last updated: 20 February 2024