LLM International Human Rights Law

Module leader: Dr Julian Lonbay

Teaching and assessment (2014): Semester 2, Essay - 6,000 words

Module description:

The aim of this module is to provide an introduction to the protection of human rights in international law. The module will focus in particular on the challenges facing the international legal system in securing respect for and effective implementation of normative human rights standards. Thus the module will explore why securing effective protection of human rights through the international legal system is so difficult. The various international mechanisms for the protection of human rights will be considered, with a particular emphasis on the political, social, cultural and economic constraints operating upon those systems. The various ideological, legal and structural difficulties identified will be further explored through the examination of particular human rights problems facing the contemporary world.

Seminar topics:

  • Human rights theory: the idea of human rights; universalism and the challenge of cultural diversity.
  • Different concepts of rights: individual rights; civil and political rights; social, economic and cultural rights; group rights.
  • State action and the protection of human rights: constitutional protection; national courts and foreign violations; humanitarian intervention.
  • UN and the Charter mechanisms for the protection of human rights: standard-setting; implementation; enforcement.
  • Treaty-mechanisms for the protection of human rights: standard setting and implementation.
  • International criminal law: offences; courts; co-operation; immunities and amnesties etc.
  • Human rights problems in the contemporary world: e.g. torture; capital punishment; genocide; indigenous peoples; minorities; children's rights and women's rights.


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