Washington Center

Human Rights in Theory and Practice

Day and Time: 
Tuesdays, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Quarter Dates: 
January 10 to March 14, 2017
Quarter Elective

The course begins by examining the philosophical and political foundations of the international human rights movement, 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. Among the issues addressed are: the law of war, refugee law, counter-terrorism and civil liberties on the home front, truth commissions and transitional justice. In particular, we will examine the utility of human rights treaties, regimes, organizations and coalitions for assessing accountability, promoting reconciliation, and protecting the abused and endangered. Students will be challenged to draw upon cases (domestic and global) to broaden their understandings of what constitutes a right, an abuse, and a protection. Contemporary and historical case studies will be explored, and students will have an opportunity to more deeply study a particular case of a human rights violation, including an examination of the deep and proximate causes, ways that the violations could have been avoided, and pathways toward alleviation, reconciliation, and justice.


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