What is this International Human Rights and Law course about?
The course International Human Rights and Law aims to examine and explore the world of modern, contemporary human rights with a principal focus on international human rights law. In this Human Rights course, the various intertwining and reciprocally influential aspects of human rights -international institutions and relations, legal norms, moral ideals, political contexts & governmental and nongovernmental actors - are drawn together and form the main themes for study and discussion.
The International Human Rights course includes a consideration of the influence of international law and its limits, the overlap between the traditional effect of relations between States and the traditional effect of relations between the State and individuals allowing the international community to demarcate what a State may do to its nationals and aliens. It then evaluates the international system and how human rights are implemented and enforced. Several contrasting claims of human rights are also tested.
Objectives and Learning Outcomes of International Human Rights and Law
What student can expect to learn by studying this course?
In this course, students will:
- Be introduced to international human rights organisations, an overview of human rights, international human rights organisations, and intergovernmental enforcement of human rights norms through such bodies as the United Nations.
- Study the international human rights institutions', organisational structure and procedures, and the role of international law, along with its limits.
- Examine notions of 'Rights', 'Duties', universalism and cultural relativism.
- Identify the processes of monitoring, implementing and enforcement of human rights through United Nations and its ancillary bodies.
- Explore the current challenges posed by self-determination, humanitarian intervention, globalisation, development and human rights.
By the end of the course students will be able to:
- Understand the nature and purported universality of human rights, various international covenants, agreements and instruments.
- Describe the key features of current challenge of globalisation within the context of international law and human rights.
- Demonstrate an understanding of human rights movement achievements and dilemmas in seeking to realize human rights ideals in the world's diverse cultures, including inherent contradictions and tensions in the human rights agenda.
- Be cognisant of conceptions, sources, processes and norms of international law as applicable to human rights.
What opportunities does the course provide for me to learn? What will I be expected to do?
The course will be delivered in a face-to-face mode with a blend of learning activities, including seminars, lectures, guest speaker presentations, and student lead discussions. Given COVID-19 circumstances, the format of the course during the semester subject to change.
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(1) Humanitarian intervention has been described by some scholars as humanitarian imperialism. Given such principles as the "doctrine to protect", is this a valid assertion?
(2) Why might a state be reluctant to ratify an international human rights convention? Discuss, with reference to examples. For sake of precision, students should focus on a specific convention as a case study.
(3) Discuss whether human rights are universal, incontrovertible, and permanently valid or merely a construct of modern Western culture?
(4) A topic relevant to International Human Rights and Law picked by the student after consultation with the lecturer/tutor.
Samples of International Human Rights and Law Assignment !
Choose one of topic given below and write research paper
Topic :- Are human rights universal or merely a construct of Western culture?
Since the introduction of human rights and until recently the interpretation of this concept is significantly diversified. Western nations have shown a significant role in the formation of human rights and in posting queries on the connotation of universal rights. A clear and concise meaning of human rights is that these are the rights that one has because of being human. However, this interpretation does not include benefits. The ideology of human rights has been largely imputed through various concepts being introduced across non-western societies as well. These concepts have influenced the universal human rights while the western construct has altered the concept of human rights through colonization, particularly impacting indigenous communities and western cultures and societies (Cerna, 1994).
Human rights are the rights that are belonged to every person merely since they are human beings. Human rights must be universal. It is clearly stated in Article 2 of the 'United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948' that every person is entitled to every right and freedom which is outlined in the declaration without any kind of distinction of race, religion, gender, colour, language, political or another kind of opinion, birth status, property, origin or any other distinction (Assembly, 1948). Also, there shall be no distinction made on the basis of the jurisdictional, political or global status of the nation from which the person is. Universalism suggests that humanity takes precedence before traditions or culture. Individuals are first humans and then belong to any culture. No individual can tell that a person should not be considered a human because he belongs to a specific culture. Similarly, no religion has the right to deprive its followers of their human rights. Except for Islam, most other religions believe in the equality of human beings and that everyone must have the same rights. As long as they are human beings, human rights must be universal.
The notion of human rights is almost universally accepted. Every nation proclaims the norms of human rights and charges the violations of human rights as among the strongest complaints which can be made across international relations. Research shows that more than 3/4 of the world nations have undertaken legal obligations internationally for the implementation of these rights and have become parties to the international human rights covenant (Hannum, 1995). Most other nations have also expressed their approval of the content and are committed to punishing human rights violations. The universal declaration of human rights passed by the United Nations in 1948 had no words against the declaration. Since these rights are extensively acknowledged, they should be deliberated to be universal.
There is certain cultural relativism that regards human rights as a construct of western nations. They go to the extent of blaming the human rights concept as a cover for interventionism. They go on to claim that human rights are a tool of western political neocolonialism. However, they fail to account for the fact that the universal declaration of human rights was conscripted by individuals who belonged to different traditions and cultures. There were drafters from different origins and parts of the world like China, America and France. The advice was also taken from thinkers like Mahatma Gandhi from India.
Although the idea of individual rights belongs to the western origin, it was the other nations, particularly the non-western ones, which pushed the adoption of the declaration against the reluctance of the Western governments. There were several leaders and philosophers from parts of America, Asia and the middle-aged who joined the activists and intellectuals in favour of human rights. These pieces of evidence prove that the notion of human rights is not just a construct of the western culture (Manglapus, 1978). These rights were introduced by the western culture initially but were widely acknowledged and accepted by the Eastern nations thereafter. It is but a common view of both western and eastern nations and it is both the categories of nations who work together for the promotion of universality in human rights.
While there were relatives who regarded this notion of human rights as being used by the western nations as a tool of intervention in developing countries, the cultural relativism of such rights can also be regarded as an excuse to evade the censure if human rights are violated.
Human rights have rather been altered to infix the western cultural values and their political ideas into the non-western societies and states. The western accent for the right to development and freedom from hungriness is predominant in Africa as a right. And likewise, the relative wastes from the Asian region claim that their emphasis is more on family, community and collective societies (Kerikmäe and Nyman-Metcalf, 2012). Several nations have repudiated the western accent on human rights and incorporated it into their laws. For example, African leaders repudiated human rights in their societies and designed their human rights charter to accommodate their society. Even though this charter was created to include the African society, the influence of the western political environment is apparent in the charter (Morsink, 2010). I am political influence also widely influences the rights used in the non-western regions.
It is to be noted that colonization constructed by the western culture also impacted human rights excessively. It is colonization that has created the footing and thought of human rights. The colonization of several provinces has influenced human rights in their societies. It is through colonization that the western civilization was introduced in the non-western provinces and then changed through human rights. Western civilization has been largely influential in the non-western provinces and societies. It has changed human rights significantly in such facilities and incorporated the adaptation of western thoughts and ideas but this same concept of human rights was viewed alternatively in eastern civilizations.
The western culture has also largely impacted the non-western provinces with the influence of western life which further changed human rights. The thought that Human Rights were the rights of humans in society was widely accepted.
This research scrutinizes the argument of whether human rights are a result of Western imperialism or universal in five stages. The first stage would envisage the ideas regarding human rights which were persistent in the traditional era. The second stage would scrutinize the new reform ideas on human rights and reasons of shift in the ideologies. Thirdly, the role of western cultural imperialism would be analyzed in the making of the western view of human rights as a universal consensus being monitored by global norms and hegemony. Next, the doctrine of human rights would be explored as a universal concept in the face of modernization. Lastly, the research would speculate human rights ideas a dependent on international norms.
It is believed that human rights have been since the inception of the traditional days. Such a thought was quite predominant in the observances of the Asian, African, American and Islamic philosophers across geographic barriers. The protection of human rights was considered to be a vital part of the African and Asian societies traditionally. However, this attitude was dissimilar to the 20th-century notion of human rights which is embodied in the universal declaration of human rights. For example, the Confucian code documented the right to personal dignity and worth which was not deliberated in the West as innate but has to be acquired by one. These traditional viewpoints are also more affiliated toward individual prominence given their role in society. These rights were not considered part of the natural inheritance. Later on, the friends in American revolutionists used such ideas for the construction of a new political order. This shift in ideologies portrayed human rights in favoured light. The importance of money rose as a standard of altercation taking ascendancy over feudal lords. A sequence of political revolutions happened in the 17th and 18th centuries which made the notion of human rights more plausible. The new ideas supported autonomous individual rights and became a part of the common values of western culture. Western imperialism is but a tool that is used to induce the western viewpoint of human rights towards becoming a universal accord. However, the idea of human rights is but an ineluctable spread through the non-western world.
The universal declaration of human rights is the documentary substantiation of how the western rules constrained the non-western ones. Although this universal declaration is not a treaty and not binding legally, it still maneuvers a lot of diplomatic force on the states to avert the defilement of its rules. Its vision is to exterminate inequality of all forms (Nickel, 1987). However, the historical aspect of the creation of this declaration was not to be universally impartial. This declaration was formed as a repercussion of the Second World War because of the vigorous cries and outbursts of the minorities and the ethnic groups which were smeared by the Nazis.
There are nations who do not apply all the clauses of this universal declaration. For instance, Saudi Arabia which is one among the eight abstentions hesitated in complying with article 18 of the declaration which allowed everyone the right to change their religion or beliefs. This indicates that there are articles in the declaration which are non-applicable to a certain extent to the non-western communities (Pollis, Schwab and Koggel, 2006). This is because these articles do not parallel their cultural views.
It is also argued that the United Nations is a westernized body where there were only five Communist nations during its inception out of a total of 51 states and therefore had clear majority support towards western positions. This is why the western powers are regarded as authoritative over the United Nations. Because of this dominance of the western powers, it is also claimed that the universal declaration has been recognized on the supposition of Western values being dominant and mandatory to be protracted to the outside world (Rights, 1948). All member nations are obliged to trail the principles which are delineated by the declaration of the rules and customs of the intercontinental community.
However, there are other critics who point out that such an idea of human rights being a universal concept can be obtained from the world hegemony as contrary to the consent gained from the international community (Alves, 2000). Moreover, this ideology is becoming a universal concept more progressively through modernization.
To conclude, it can be rightly said that western society has largely impacted the non-western society through western life and has also altered the human rights impacting the non-western culture as well. The basics of human rights are apparent in society and the society has excessive powers to consider those rights, meaning to say that the society can alter or level the human rights of the society. It is argued that the Gaelic revolution had changed the rights of several persons and groups into the western form of rights (Henkin, 1989). The changes brought in by western society have altered several traditional constructs in non-western societies. Similarly, western society has also greatly impacted non-western societies with human rights (Hoffmann, 2009). The concept of western culture has also changed the thought of human rights. The dry rubric of the universal declaration of human rights is more of a western creative activity of human rights.
However, it can also be stated that human rights are not merely a construct of western culture. They are universal and widely accepted throughout the world. Despite the concept of human rights being brought in by the western culture, it has been through several amendments across nations and even at a global level (Paust, 1995). The human rights declaration by the United Nations also considers suggestions from various nations in the drafting of the charter. The mere fact that no nation voted against the implementation of human rights is sufficient to prove that human rights are universal and to be relished by all civilizations equally. However, it can also not be denied that Human Rights are not as universal as they appear to be but are the representation of international norms at different times as seen from the transition of these rights across generations.
Other International Human Rights and Law Topics Includes:-
(1) Humanitarian intervention has been described by some scholars as humanitarian imperialism. Given such principles of international law as the "doctrine to protect", is this a valid assertion?
(2) Why might states be reluctant to ratify an international human rights convention? Discuss, with reference to legal examples. For sake of precision, students should focus on a specific convention as a case study.