The UN Human Rights System

Course Description: 

This advanced human rights course critically examines the international human rights system established under the auspices of the United Nations in its contemporary context. It looks at the role and effectiveness of key UN organs and bodies dealing with the development, monitoring and enforcement of international human rights law. The course analyses the functions, procedures and performance of such bodies established under the UN Charter, notably the Human Rights Council and the Security Council, and under the core UN human rights treaties, notably the Human Rights Committee. It also acknowledges some of the current and dominant normative debates within these bodies, whilst addressing ongoing discussions concerning their institutional evolution and reform. In doing so, the course draws on a range of highly contemporary materials from UN, NGO and academic sources.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Ability to demonstrate in-depth knowlege and think critically about the UN human rights system at an advanced level;
  • Ability to research, analyse and use documents produced by the UN human rights bodies in making legal and policy arguments at an advanced level;
  • Ability to demonstrate substantial knowledge of some areas of international human rights law at an advanced level;
  • Ability to engage in making written and oral arguments concerning the UN human rights system as a whole and in relation to particular UN human rights bodies.

All the classes require students to read the assigned materials. The final grade will be based on general class participation (15%), one written assignment (20%), one oral assignment (15%) and a final exam (50%). Further guidance on the assignments will be given in due course. The final exam is a 2 hour closed book exam.