International Human Rights Law
This course serves as an introduction to the law, theory and practice of international human rights, together with the instruments, organizations and arrangements that affect their implementation and enforcement. Beginning with a consideration of the philosophical origins of the concept of human rights, the course will examine the process by which sovereign nation-states have come to recognize an increasing number of human rights instruments and doctrine as part of positive international law, sometimes with binding effect on their domestic legal systems. The course will cover the development and implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two International Covenants on Human Rights, and the various regional or subject-specific human rights instruments in the contemporary international system. We will critically consider the extent to which the standards set out in these texts reflect a genuine international consensus on the content of human rights that is conducive to enforcement.Topics that will be covered include: the universal or culturally particular nature of human rights; connections between civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights; major international and regional human rights instruments and institutions; institutional remedies in response to mass atrocities; the role of international courts and tribunals; and the activities of civil society and human rights advocacy organizations. Wherever relevant, the discussion of international human rights law will relate to contemporary developments in human rights internationally as well as within the United States. The survey course in public international law, while not a prerequisite, is strongly recommended.