International Human Rights

Quick Info
(3440.03)  Seminar
J. Yap; Adjunct Professor
3 credit(s)  2 hour(s);
Seminar, lecture and discussion
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

This seminar combines four goals in terms of its subject-matter coverage: an introduction to major institutions and processes of the international  human rights law (IHRL) system (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); 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 focus for the better part of the seminar — the various ways in which international human rights law can be used as a legal advocacy tool within the domestic system.
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. Students will additionally have the option of doing a practical memo or short paper for a civil-society partner for a portion of their grade – subject to availability of partners seeking assistance.
The class meets once a week in a 2-hour time slot. Guests may on occasion be beamed into the class using a classroom internet connection; a couple of classes may be scheduled to be fully remote on Zoom where it is planned to take up the entire time interacting with a guest or guests.