Seminar options

International Human Rights Law Summer School 2018

In the mornings, all students take the Fundamentals of International Human Rights Law course which provides an in-depth understanding of relevant laws, legal principles, obligations and enforcement machinery. This course comprises a plenary lecture, followed by small-group seminars. One group will be an advanced group and students who have already studied international human rights law or can demonstrate significant professional experience in the field may opt for this class which focuses on Human Rights Lawyering. In the afternoons students choose one of five classes for a more in-depth study of a particular specialised area of international human rights law.

You will be asked to choose your seminar options on the online application form. For the afternoon seminars we will ask you to make a first and second choice of class. We will always try to place you in your first choice but this may not be possible if a class is already oversubscribed. We may not be able to confirm your class choices until after the payment deadline.

The Fundamentals of International Human Rights Law (a.m.)

Prof Basak Cali, Prof Hina Jilani, Dr Magdalena Sepúlveda, Dr Alexandra Xanthaki
(3 semester credits)

This core overview course provides students with a broad grounding in international human rights law and its monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. The course is educative both to students that have no prior knowledge of international law and international human rights law (IHRL) as well as broadening the horizons of those with experiences in aspects of IHRL.

The first part of the course examines the philosophical and historical development of human rights and basic key principles of public international law which underpin IHRL. In this part of the course particular emphasis is placed upon an examination of the sources of IHRL. The second part of this course explores the enforcement machinery for international and regional human rights law. Here we examine and evaluate the work of the United Nations Charter and Treaty-based bodies; the regional human rights laws and systems in Africa, the Americas, Europe (with an eye to developments in other parts of the world); and the prospects for enforcing IHRL in the domestic courts of countries from a variety of legal traditions. The final section of the course examines a number of substantive areas in IHRL, including poverty and human rights, the rights or women, humanitarian law and intervention, the rights of refugees, business and human rights, international criminal tribunals and the role of non-governmental organisations in the protection and promotion of human rights.

This course is taught by way of a daily plenary lecture which is delivered by different eminent faculty each day. The lecture is followed by seminar groups that facilitate greater discussion and exploration of the IHRL topic of the day. The course is evaluated by way of a written examination (75%) and class participation (25%).

Human Rights Lawyering (a.m. advanced class)

Prof Ralph Steinhardt (3 semester credits)

This course, designed for students with previous studies or experience in the field, emphasises the role of attorneys in the articulation and enforcement of international human rights law. Students will analyze human rights norms in the form of treaties, customary international law, and “soft law” instruments, always with an eye to using the law effectively in advising and representing individual clients, organisations, and governments seeking compliance. Students will assess the value of various international, regional, and domestic systems of enforcement. At each juncture, they will confront contemporary problems in international human rights law, especially the liability of non-state actors, the sporadic internalization of human rights norms by government actors, and the challenge of cultural relativism and other forms of skepticism.

Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights - Law and Practice (p.m.)

Adv Jason Brickhill (2 semester credits)

This course considers the legal and practical challenges in the implementation of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs). In the last twenty-five years, there have been crucial developments at the international, regional and national levels, which have helped to clarify the nature of state obligations and facilitate the enforcement of ESCRs. Students will critically examine and discuss these developments. In addition to analysing the conceptual framework, the course will also introduce students to the mechanisms and tools for implementation of ESCRs in practice, including through litigation and advocacy. Specific topics to be addressed include the rights to housing, health, water and education, as well as the relationship between ESCRs and the right to equality and the roles of civil society and social movements in enforcing ESCRs. Students will be assessed through their participation in class (25%) and a written exam (75%).

Gender, Sexuality and International Human Rights Law (p.m.)

Prof Karima Bennoune (2 semester credits)

This seminar will provide an overview of the international legal and institutional system for the protection of women’s human rights, and consider topical issues in the field. We will look at the material both from an academic perspective and from the point of view of the practitioner. Particular areas of focus will include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), violence against women, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and the work of women’s human rights defenders, as well as the impact of religious fundamentalisms and of terrorism and counter-terrorism on women. The course is evaluated by way of a written examination (75%) and class participation (25%).

Human Rights in the Marketplace (p.m.)

Prof David Kinley (2 semester credits)

The class examines the relationship between international human rights standards and global trade and investment, corporate governance and competition, international finance, and economic development. The specific topics covered examine the principles, policies, laws and institutions relating to the human rights implications of the main drivers of the global economy – namely, transnational corporations and commerce, global financial institutions and financial flows, aid agencies and economic development, and international trade regimes. The class also considers the importance of good governance and the rule of law to the protection of human rights alongside sustainable economic development.  The class finishes with an open-ended assessment of the main problems and possibilities that lie ahead in the field. The course is evaluated by way of a written examination (80%) and class participation (20%).

International Human Rights and Refugee Law (p.m.)

Prof Stephen Meili (2 semester credits)

This course will examine international and domestic protections available to refugees. Its primary focus will be the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol and other international instruments, and how they have been interpreted by various international, regional and national bodies. The course will emphasize the human rights approach to refugee law, i.e., the extent to which human rights instruments such as the Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights inform interpretations of the Refugee Convention. Given the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, the course will pay particular attention to the role of the European Convention on Human Rights in protecting refugees. The course will combine lectures, discussions and in-class exercises such as mock asylum hearings. The written exam for this course will account for 75% of the final grade. Class participation, including participation in class discussions and in-class exercises, will account for 25% of the grade.

War, Peace and Human Rights (p.m.)

Prof Stuart Maslen

This course will focus on the rules applicable to armed conflict, particularly the conduct of hostilities (Hague Law) and the treatment of persons in the power of the enemy (Geneva Law). Key topics for discussion will include identifying an armed conflict, the legality of means and methods of warfare, including the weapons used, piloted and unmanned bombing, and blockades, and cyber attacks, and conflict in space. Application of the law to non-state armed groups will be covered as will the relationship between warfare and law enforcement. We will also consider the means by which the law of armed conflict is enforced in the current international system. The course is evaluated by way of a written examination (75%) and class participation (25%).