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OADH 2045 - International Human Rights Law

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies


There is no pre-requisite. However, students who have not previously studied public international law are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the subject prior to the course by studying one of the principal textbooks, by Brownlie, Shaw or Cassese.

Course Description

The course will be organised thematically. Major issues in international human rights law (the right to life and the prohibition of capital punishment, freedom of expression, equality, economic and social rights, minorities, accountability and criminal justice) will be examined in detail, exploring at the same time the structures and mechanisms of the United Nations and of regional bodies such as the Council of Europe. In this way, by the end of the semester students should have a good general grasp of the institutional framework through which human rights are promoted and protected at the international law. They should also learn the methodology for the study of specific issues, including the roles of different treaties and other documents, and the significance of the work of such sources as the materials of the Human Rights Council, the special rapporteurs, the treaty bodies, the European Court of Human Rights, etc. The objective of the course is to provide students with an overview of both the content of international human rights sources and the mechanisms for their implementation.


  • CEESAY, Juanita D. (Doctorante)
  • SCHABAS, William (Professor of International Law)

Pedagogical format

Classes will consist of lecture presentations, with questions and discussion by students strongly encouraged. Two option extracurricular activities will be organized: an afternoon walking tour of Paris on a human rights theme and a visit to the European Court of Human Rights for a hearing before the Grand Chamber.

Course validation

Students will be required to submit, as a writing and research exercise, an encyclopedia entry on a major theme in international human rights in which they identify and classify the relevant issues and sources (50%). At the end of the course, there will be a take-home examination to be completed in a 24-hour period on a date fixed by agreement (50%).

Required reading

  • Andrew Clapham, Human Rights, A Very Short Introduction, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2007
  • William Schabas, International Human Rights Law, Cases and Materials (a ‘polycopie', available in pdf format and in a printed version, available for purchase)

Additional required reading

  • Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Random House, 2008
  • Geoffrey Robertson, Crimes Against Humanity, The Struggle for Global Justice, London: Penguin Books, 2006
  • Frédéric Sudre, Droit international et européen des droits de l'homme, 8th ed., Paris: PUF, 2008
  • Paul Gordon Lauren The Evolution of International Human Rights, Visions Seen, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2003
  • Susan Marks and Andrew Clapham, International Human Rights Lexicon, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005
  • Kevin Boyle, ed., New Institutions for Human Rights Protection, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009
  • Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia, Human Rights in History, Belknap Press: Cambridge, MA, 2010

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session 1: The Right to Life and the Prohibition of Capital Punishment
Required readings:

  • Relevant legal provisions; Soering v. United Kingdom; Judge v. Canada; Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. United Kingdom ; Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards, Secretary-General report; Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; China, National Reports to the Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review; Belgium v. Senegal. These materials are available in a reader in hard copy or pdf.

Session 2: Same as Session 1.

Session 3: Freedom of Expression
Required readings:

  • Relevant legal provisions; Jersild v. Denmark; Faurisson v. France; General Comment; Perinçek v. Switzerland; Nahimana et al. v. Prosecutor; European Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia; Couderc and Hachette Filipicci v. France; Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression. These materials are available in a reader in hard copy or pdf.

Session 4: Same as Session 3.

Session 5: Equality
Required readings:

  • Relevant legal provisions; General Comment No. 18: Non-discrimination; Canessa v. Uruguay; G.E. v. Germany; EU Directive on Racial Equality; Outcome Document, Durban Review Conference; The meaning and scope of special measures, General Recommendation No. 32; Opuz v. Turkey; AT v. Hungary; X and Y v. Georgia; Belousova v. Kazakhstan; Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity; Discriminatory laws and practices, report of the Secretary-General; Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women; Right to Legal Capacity ; Parris v. Trinity College. These materials are available in a reader in hard copy or pdf.

Session 6: Same as Session 5.

Session 7: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Required readings:

  • Relevant legal provisions; Gómez v. Spain; Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Mission to India; South Africa et al. v Grootboom et al.; The Right to Work, General Comment No. 18; France; Concluding observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; United States, Report to the Human Rights Council (Universal Periodic Review) These materials are available in a reader in hard copy or pdf.

Session 8: Same as Session 7.

Session 9: Minorities
Required readings:

  • Relevant legal provisions; Debate on minorities during drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Lovelace v. Canada; Diergaardt v. Namibia; Kalevi Paadar v. Finland; France, Reservation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; France, National report; General Comment No. 23; Commentary of the Working Group; Background Document; Sejdić and Finci v. Bosnia and Herzegovina. These materials are available in a reader in hard copy or pdf.

Session 10: Same as Session 9.

Session 11: Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
Required Reading:

  • Rome Statute (excerpts); U.S.A. v. Alstötter et al. (The Justice Case); Prosecutor v. Tadić; Arrest Warrant case (DRC v. Belgium); Prosecutor v. Kordić & Čerkez; Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur; Gaza flotilla decision of Pre-Trial Chamber; 2005 World Summit Outcome (excerpt on Responsibility to Protect); Rule of Law Declaration; Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Final Report (excerpt on amnesty); The Crime of Aggression (Resolution of the Kampala Review Conference); GA Resolution on Syria. These materials are available in a reader in hard copy or pdf.

Session 12: Same as Session 11

Short biography

William A. Schabas is one of the leading publicists in the field of International Human Rights Law and related areas. He has written more than 20 books and 400 journal articles on such subjects as the abolition of capital punishment, genocide, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Criminal Tribunals. Professor Schabas was a member of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He has conducted missions for International Human Rights NGOs and has been a consultant to the United Nations. He has argued important cases before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.