POLS6016 Human Rights and World Politics
Course Code: POLS6016
Course Tutor: Professor Neil Mitchell (Department of Political Science)
Length: One term (Spring Term)
Teaching: 20 hours lectures/seminars
Assessment: Two 2,000 word essays (40/60%)
Credits: 0.5 course units, 4 (US) 7.5 (ECTS)
About this course
This module explores the development of human rights norms and practices in international politics. Human rights is a broad and multidimensional concept. Our concentration will be on what are sometimes referred to as 1st generation rights. These rights are designed to protect individuals from a variety of repressive actions including killing, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment. We will examine what social science can contribute to our understanding of human rights and the role of international institutions, states, and non-state actors. The readings and discussion will introduce students to the major theoretical frameworks for understanding state compliance with human rights obligations using both historical and comparative approaches to the topic. We will focus on particular case examples and general cross-national comparisons in the effort to understand why states commit violations. The module will explore the influence of political and economic conditions such as regime type, conflict, economic development in the protection or violation of human rights, the impact of human agency and decisions and the role leadership and the management of security sector. Finally, it will examine questions of intervention, the development of accountability mechanisms and the management of the blame for human rights violatons.
By the end of the course students will have some understanding of the conceptual, cultural, normative, and legal basis of human rights, an appreciation of both the normative and empirical issues, and a familiarity with the broad theoretical debate and case material.