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OADH 4050 - Human Rights in International Politics

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

This course will examine the interplay of the principles of human rights with the complex reality of contemporary international politics. It will explore a series of issues and controversies that have been prominent in international relations in recent years, analysing them both in terms of underlying principles and the policy calculations of state actors. The course is designed to give students a feel for the factors that shape official decision-making and that should be taken into account for effective advocacy. The aim is to look at a series of interconnected topics that together will add up to a composite picture of the current scope for advancing human rights through global politics. Topics considered will include: the place of human rights in EU and US foreign policy; the US “war on terror” including debates over detention and drone strikes, as well as European responses to the recent rise of ISIS; the politics of international justice, and the relationship of justice to the search for peace; the North African revolutions of the “Arab Spring” and the international response; intervention and non-intervention (Libya & Syria); human rights in the UN system; the challenges posed by authoritarian great powers like Russia and China; enforcement measures to counteract human rights violations, including the use of sanctions; the rise of populist-nationalist parties in Western democracies; migration; and surveillance/human rights in the digital world. The course will build towards an analysis of the way in which changes in the international system shape and constrain efforts to uphold human rights overseas.


  • DWORKIN, Anthony (Senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations)
  • SCHILL, Anaïs (Etudiante doctorante)

Pedagogical format

Each week's session will take the form of a structured discussion introduced and led by the teacher and including at a designated point a fifteen-twenty minute presentation by a group of students. Students will be assigned to presentation topics based as far as possible on preferences, and before the first class they will be asked to send a shortlist of topics on which they would have a particular interest to present.

Course validation

Each week a group of students will make a short presentation about one aspect of the subject under discussion, this will constitute 30% of the final assessment. Out of the suggested reading each week, one item will be highlighted and students will be expected to send a short summary (1-2 paragraphs or 6 or so bullet points) of this text before the class. 10% of the final assessment will be given for class participation and for these short summaries. A 4000 word research paper on a subject related to one week's class and agreed beforehand with the instructor, to be completed by the end of April 2017, will account for the remaining 60%.


Each week's readings will combine analysis of the factors shaping the policies of states and other actors with consideration of how evolving aspects of the international system affect the interpretation of underlying principles of human rights. Any readings not easily available online will be posted on a designated Google Drive folder for the class. Each week there will be one highlighted text, which all students will be expected to compile a short summary of, and send in before the class.

Required reading

Required readings will be assigned on a week-by-week basis. It would be helpful for students to come to the class with a basic understanding of the frameworks for EU and US action on human rights; those who are unfamiliar with these topics might consult standard texts such as Karen Smith, EU Foreign Policy in a Changing World (3rd edition, chapters 5 & 6) and Jack Donnelly, International Human Rights (4th edition, chapters 5, 6, & 9)

Plans de cours et bibliographies