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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Postgraduate Course: Human Rights, Global Politics and International Law (PLIT11017)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the interaction between politics and law in relation to human rights and their enforcement. It discusses interactions between state sovereignty and issues of justice and pays considerable attention to questions of universal human rights and their (non-selective) enforcement. The course analyses current issues and debates with regard to ways of enforcing existing human rights laws through UN institutions, military intervention as well as judicial intervention (for instance through ad hoc tribunals and the International Criminal Court).

Aims & Objectives

The course's main aims are to provide students with a critical understanding of:
1. relevant theories, principles and concepts related to human rights and their role in global politics and international law;
2. the extent in which global politics and international law interact and influence each other;
3. recent developments in international human rights law and their impact on international relations between states;
4. the role of institutions and actors in formulating and enforcing international human rights law.
Course description The course focuses on human rights and their role in global politics and international law. It examines practical issues and questions arising from the enforcement of international human rights such as the problem of universality and the difficulty of achieving state cooperation. Different modes of enforcement, such as UN institutions, military intervention and judicial intervention will be analysed. The course uses case studies to illustrate and analyse the problems attached to each of these enforcement mechanisms. More specifically, this course will cover:

1. The global application of human rights. Case study: UN institutions
2. Humanitarian Intervention. Case studies: Somalia, Rwanda and Kosovo
3. International criminal justice. Ccase studies: Nuremberg, Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda
4. Other forms of post-conflict justice. Case studies: Sierra Leone, South Africa
5. Universal Jurisdiction. Pinochet at the House of Lords
6. National versus international courts
7. Independent mechanism for universal enforcement? The International Criminal Court
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of key institutions and processes related to human rights in global politics and international law.
  2. Identify and understand key concepts and theories related to international human rights and international law.
  3. Will know and understand academic debates surrounding the interaction between politics and law.
  4. Critically engage with core texts and articulate an informed view about current debates and questions surrounding human rights enforcement in global politics.
Reading List
Brown, Chris. (2002). Sovereignty, Rights and Justice: International Political Theory Today. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Forsythe, David P. (2006). Human Rights in International Relations, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goodhart, Michael (Ed.) (2009) Human Rights - Politics and Practice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Maogoto, Jackson Nyamuya. (2004). War Crimes and Realpolitik: International Justice from World War I to the 21st Century. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.

Wheeler, Nicholas J. (2000). Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrea Birdsall
Tel: (0131 6)50 6974
Course secretaryMrs Gillian MacDonald
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244
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