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ODEC 8095 - Gender, Difference and Human Rights

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2019-2020

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English


Students should have completed a basic course in international human rights law.

Course Description

This intensive course will draw attention to how and why the relationship between human rights and gender has been highly fraught and replete with tensions. It will do so by exploring and unpacking two central claims on which human rights law is based: firstly, that human rights are universal; and secondly, that human rights are an optimistic, progressive and emancipatory pursuit. These claims will be interrogated by focusing on the treatment of gender as well as gender and difference in international human rights law. The course will introduce students to postcolonial and feminist theoretical approaches that have been developed in relation to gender, gender difference and the cultural ๠Other'. It will then proceed to consider how these approaches complicate understandings of gender in relation to a range of human rights issues including gender equality; sexual violence and anti-trafficking campaigns; gender identity, sexual orientation, and the ๠Other'; secularism and the Islamic veil bans; and gender, peace and security. In each session, students will be invited to trace the work that gender does in human rights advocacy and consider how and why human rights interventions on gender have disparate and at times even disempowering impacts. The course will prompt students to think about the future of gender in international human rights advocacy in light of this critical analysis.


KAPUR, Ratna (Professor of International Law, Queen Mary University of London)

Pedagogical format

Prepare for, attend, and participate respectfully in each class session; Prepare one page of comments that engage with the “questions to think about in class” set out at the end of the each session in the Course Outline. Please remember there is no right or wrong answer and every student's contribution is valuable. To encourage this process individual students will be called upon to comment on specific readings based on the questions set out in the outline and to start off the discussion for the class. It is therefore crucial that students prepare their readings in advance of each class.

Course validation

Pass/Fail Students must be present at each session . Any absence will result in failure of the class. - Students will be asked to write a short reaction paper (one page) for each session to demonstrate their preparation of the required readings - Students must well prepared with the readings and actively participate in class discussions.


The course will require 30-40 pages of reading preparation for each class.

Required reading

The readings for the course are set out in the course outline.