Seminar options

International Human Rights Law Summer School 2017

All students take the Fundamentals of International Human Rights Law course in the mornings 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 Advocacy and Dissemination. 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.

Fundamentals of International Human Rights Law (a.m)

Prof Basak Cali, Prof Hurst Hannum, Prof Fernando Toller, Dr Alexandra Xanthaki
(3 semester credits)

This core introductory course aims to provide students with a basic grounding in international human rights law and its systems for enforcement. The course is open to students that have no prior knowledge of international law or international human rights law. 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 international human rights law. During this part of the course particular emphasis is placed upon an examination of the sources of international human rights law. The second part of this course explores international and regional human rights laws and enforcement machinery. During this part of the course we examine and evaluate the work of the United Nations Charter and Treaty-based machinery and the regional human rights laws and systems in Africa, the Americas, Europe and developments in other parts of the world. The final section of the course examines a number of topics in international human rights law, including poverty and human rights, the rights or women, humanitarian law and intervention, the rights of refugees, 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 lecture topic of the day. The course is evaluated by way of a written examination (75%) and class participation (25%).

Human Rights Advocacy and Dissemination (a.m. advanced class)

Prof Chip Pitts (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.

International Criminal Law (p.m.)

Dr Patricia Sellers (2 semester credits)

This is a survey course of international criminal law that emphasizes the historical development of international criminal law courts and tribunals. The course has several objectives.  First, it is intended to impart a critical appreciation of the evolution of international criminal and by appraising the legal heritage of the International Military Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo. The modern international judicial institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, the ad hoc Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the internationalized Courts of Sierra Leone and Cambodia descend from the international military tribunals, yet are creatures of their time, bound by their constitutive statutes and their institutional mechanisms.  The second and foremost course objective is to examine the substantive contours of the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression together with applicable modes of individual liability, such as superior responsibility, joint criminal enterprise, co-perpetration or aiding and abetting.  The third objective is to delve into the jurisprudence in order to gain a first hand knowledge of seminal international criminal case law.  The student is expected to develop a working familiarity with the judicial reasoning in judgments or decisions that have advanced international criminal law.

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 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 that are covered examine the principles, policies, laws and institutions relating to the human rights implications of global finance (including following the Global Financial Crisis), corporations and commerce, aid and economic development, international trade, and the notions of good governance and the rule of law, as well as an assessment of what prospects and possibilities 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 Dino Kritsiotis

International law has traditionally divided its rules between those applicable in 'peace' and those applicable in 'war'. Our concentration in this course shall be on the latter situations--situations today known as 'armed conflict'--and we shall explore underlying considerations as to whether or not international law can aspire, following Vietnam, Iraq and the rise of Islamic State, to regulate hostilities in their various forms. There shall be a brief introduction to the Geneva Conventions of August 1949, and two Additional Protocols concluded in June 1977; we will also consider the degree to which international law and legal institutions may operate to prevent, constrain, ameliorate and resolve such conflicts; and the means by which they attempt to protect the victims of conflict, compensate them for losses suffered, and ensure their human rights. Key topics for discussion shall be the classification of combatants (including the role of child soldiers and mercenaries), the treatment of prisoners of war, the rules applicable in terms of targeting decisions (such as bridges, schools, broadcasting stations) and methods and means used in warfare (such as starvation and sexual violence). We will then consider the various means by which international law is enforced in the current international system.  Finally, we will look at a series of specific recent conflicts to judge how these legal principles and mechanisms have operated in practice (or failed to do so).