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OADH 4095 - Human Rights and Natural Resources

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


There is no formal prerequisite, but students who do not have previous knowledge of international law are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the foundations of the subject before the beginning of the course. Readable introductions to the subject are: J Klabbers, International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); S Murphy, Principles of International Law (St. Paul: Thomson Reuters, 2012). Relevant entry words of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law can be very helpful.

Course Description

The course will investigate the linkage between human rights and natural resources under the perspective of international law. In the first part of the course, attention will be focussed on how international rules allocate natural resources to States, groups and individuals. Economic rights such as the right to water and the right to food will be then analysed in the light of the concept of food security and the problems related to international investments in the agricultural sector. Other topics touch upon the rights of indigenous peoples to lands and natural resources, the protection of economic and social rights in cases of occupation and in unlawful territorial situations as well as the exploitation of natural resources during civil wars. The concept of permanent sovereignty over natural resources, the role of historic rights over natural resources in territorial disputes and the concept of 'vital human needs' in the sharing of the waters of international watercourses will be part of the picture. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, the course will also explore the interrelation between the applicable international rules and economic or political theories such as virtual water, hydro-hegemony, and the resource curse.


PERTILE, Marco (Associate Professor of International Law)

Pedagogical format

The course will be based on a mix of lectures, debates and classroom simulations. Students are required to read assigned materials before class, so as to be able to understand and discuss them critically. During classes, students will be required to take position on the relevant topics. The main legal texts and judicial decisions will be uploaded on the website of the course. Students are encouraged to consult them.

Course validation

The assessment will be based on the result of a written assignment (50%), on a multiple-choice exam (20%), and on class participation (30%). The written assignment will consist of a research and opinion paper on a topic approved by the instructor. The word limit is 5000. Further instructions and a list of approved topics will be distributed in class. The multiple-choice exam will consist of 10 to 15 questions related to the topics discussed in class. It will last 10 minutes. Class participation will be continuously assessed through debates, short assignments, and classroom simulations. During the course each student is required to give at least one short oral presentation.

Required reading

see the course outline on Google Drive