Undergraduate Course: Human Rights in International Relations (PLIT10063)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||What role do human rights play in international relations today? How are rights for individuals enforced by states? This course examines the interaction between politics and law and aims to give a general understanding of the role of human rights in the post-Cold War world. It discusses relations between order, stability and justice and pays considerable attention to issues of universality of human rights and particularly the problem of enforcement. The course analyses current issues and debates of military humanitarian interventions as well as judicial interventions such as the ad hoc war crimes tribunals and the International Criminal Court.
a. Academic Description
What role do human rights play in international relations today? How are rights for individuals enforced by states? This course examines the interaction between politics and law and aims to give a general understanding of the role of human rights in the international society. It discusses relations between order, stability and justice and pays considerable attention to issues of the universality of human rights and particularly the problem of enforcement. The course analyses current issues and debates of external interventions such as humanitarian military campaigns and war crimes tribunals and also examines challenges to Human Rights resulting from counterterrorism campaigns.
b. Outline Content
1 Introducing Human Rights
This session will be an introduction to the course and the topic of human rights more generally. We will discuss different conceptions of what these rights might entail and whether they are universal.
2 Framing Human Rights: Theoretical Foundations
This session introduces different theoretical perspectives on human rights. We will look at some mainstream International Relations theories as well as assess the feminist critiques and other alternative approaches.
3 The Global Application of Human Rights
This session will focus on different institutions that exist on the international level to ensure the enforcement of human rights such as the UN Human Rights Council and also regional mechanisms like the European Court of Human Rights. Our main focus is on the Genocide Convention and the case study of Darfur to discuss difficulties attached to even the most clearly defined international human rights crimes.
4 Humanitarian Intervention
This session will assess different arguments made in favour and against humanitarian intervention. We will also discuss the Responsibility to Protect and assess how it works in practice. The main case studies will be Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
5 Universal Jurisdiction
This session will introduce the concept of universal jurisdiction and the question whether national courts are appropriate mechanisms to intervene in other states internal affairs by prosecuting some of the worst human rights offenders. The main case studies are Pinochet and Hissene Habre.
6 International Criminal Justice
This session follows on from the previous one by looking at international courts as mechanisms for international judicial intervention. We will look at Nuremberg as well as the two ad hoc courts (ICTY and, ICTR) and some hybrid courts to discuss the effectiveness of multilateral efforts to achieve justice.
7 The International Criminal Court
This session will look at the creation of the International Criminal Court as an independent and permanent court that aims to prosecute some of the most serious human rights abuses. Our case studies will focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur.
8 Human Rights and Civil Society
This session will look at different actors in the human rights field by focussing on global civil society and their influences rather than states. Case Studies include the Coalition for an ICC and Child Soldiers International.
9 Human Rights and the War on Terror
This session will look at how and why human rights and civil liberties have been infringed upon in the name of national security. We will discuss whether a lesser evil of compromising rights of a few needs to be accepted to ensure security of the wider community. Case Studies will focus on Guantanamo Bay as well as the so-called Torture Memos.
10 Drone Warfare and International Law
The final session will look at drone warfare as part of US the counterterrorism campaign. We will discuss implications of these new technologies for fighting wars and also what they mean for human rights.
c. Student Learning Experience
This course will be taught by way of 1 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial. Tutorial sessions will focus on different activities such as debates, small group discussions or plenaries. We will be discussing a lot of case studies related to the real world application of issues related to human rights. Students will be required to write a weekly summary (1 page) of the key readings which will help them in developing their writing skills and also serves as preparation for the end of term exam.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites|| Visiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Section for admission to this course **
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge of the main human rights provisions and ways of their enforcement
- analyse theoretical foundations of human rights in international politics and concepts of international order and justice
- show familiarity with core texts and articulate an informed view about current debates and questions surrounding human rights enforcement in international relations
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||This course has a quota. Preference will be given to Politics and IR students.
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Plus 1 hr tutorial per week
|Course organiser||Dr Andrea Birdsall
Tel: (0131 6)50 6974
|Course secretary||Mr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001