This seminar is organized into three modules. The first will provide a foundational background that includes an overview of the history, key concepts, and the underlying international law framework of the international human rights law (IHRL) system. The second module will deliver the substantive core of the seminar’s subject matter and include an introduction to major institutions and processes of the system, an overview of some core doctrine and debates related to a selection of protected human rights (e.g. those related to life, health, torture, forced labour and slavery, freedom of expression and information), engagement with certain general concepts and debates about individual rights as well as the system as a whole (including criticisms and controversies), and the various ways in which international human rights law can be used as a legal advocacy tool within the domestic system. The third and final module will examine selected current topics in IHRL, including a review of closely related fields of international law such as international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international refugee law, and indigenous peoples’ rights.
The IHRL system is vast, and the goal of the course is not to provide a comprehensive doctrinal understanding of the entire field. Rather, the objective is for students to come away with a basic familiarity with the fundamental architecture of the system, the resources with which to navigate it, and knowledge of the ways in which international human rights law can be used to inform and support human rights advocacy under domestic legal systems. In addition, through the requirement of a major paper, each student will gain more focused knowledge of a specialized topic of the student’s choice.
Student learning will take place by completion of assigned readings, online posting of brief comments by students, and discussion in class, combined with the preparation of a major research paper.
The class meets once a week in a 3-hour time slot. Guests may on occasion be beamed into the class using a classroom internet connection; certain classes may be scheduled to be fully remote on Zoom where a guest or guests cannot attend in person.