The course examines the philosophical and historical foundations of the international human rights regime, and probes debates over universality, culture, and human rights. The course also includes an introduction to the United Nations and regional systems for the protection and promotion of human rights, including tools for analyzing forms of interventions that purport to promote peace and justice. Key issues addressed will include state sovereignty and its limits, refugee law, counter-terrorism and civil liberties on the home front, and truth commissions and transitional justice, among others. In particular, we will examine the utility of human rights treaties, regimes, organizations and advocacy coalitions for assessing accountability, promoting reconciliation, and protecting the abused and endangered.
The course will challenge students to draw upon specific cases to broaden their understandings of what constitutes a right, an abuse, and a protection. We will explore contemporary and historical cases, and students will have an opportunity to study a particular case of a human rights violation, including an examination of the deep and proximate causes, ways that the violations might have been avoided, and pathways toward alleviation, reconciliation, and justice.