Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2016



Course Number

DIPL 4106

Course Description

This course explores the history and nature of international human rights law and policy, considering both economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights as articulated through the United Nations and various sources of international law (treaties, custom, UN declarations and resolutions, and “soft law”). The structure of international institutions as they address particular aspects of human rights, with a focus on the creation and implementation of international law, global governance, and relations between states and non-state actors, will be examined in an effort to understand and define “human rights” in our time. By the end of the course, students will possess an understanding of the operation of the international human rights system and its mechanisms through the United Nations and treaty bodies; the difficulties of negotiating, implementing and enforcing the agreements that elaborate the rights and responsibilities of states to each other, to their citizens, and universally to all people; and the role of international human rights law and policy in international affairs in the creation of a just, equitable, fair and secure world with dignity for all.

Students will develop critical thinking through an introduction to legal reasoning and concepts in international human rights law and policy. The course requires students to read closely, to think logically, and to become skilled in formulating convincing positions while understanding opposing arguments. Students will apply these legal reasoning skills throughout the course in assignments and class discussion. The ability to think critically and analytically, and to communicate an analysis clearly, are crucial skills not only for lawyers, but for practitioners of diplomacy and for all professionals.