UCL Faculty of Laws


International Human Rights Law (LAWS0232)

This module examines the history, theory and nature of international human rights law, a selection of substantive rights protections (and their application to topical situations), and enforcement.

This module examines the history, theory and nature of international human rights law, a selection of substantive rights protections (and their application to topical situations) the institutional infrastructure for enforcing this body of law. The course strikes a balance in seeking to cover all the main elements of the international normative and institutional system regarding human rights, and a selection of some of the main rights protections, while enabling sufficient depth of coverage. 

Module Syllabus (Topics subject to change)

  • History, theory and structure of international human rights law (‘IHRL’) 

  • Sources and nature of IHRL obligations, and the relationship between IHRL and other areas of international law (notably international humanitarian law and UN Law) 

  • Territorial and extraterritorial applicability of IHRL  

  • Self-determination, minority and indigenous rights 

  • Economic, social and cultural rights including the right to development 

  • Forced migration, refugees, non-refoulement, diplomatic asylum 

  • Prohibition of Torture and (other) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment 

  • Right to life 

  • Right to liberty and security  

  • Privacy in general, big data and cyberspace in particular 

  • War and genocide 

  • The environment and human rights 

  • Enforcement: Dispute settlement and remedies at the international and domestic levels 

  • Enforcement: The UN System of Human Rights Protection: Charter and Treaty based 

  • Enforcement: Regional Systems of HR Protection I: The African, ASEAN and Arab Systems 

  • Enforcement: Regional Systems of HR Protection II: The American and European Systems 

  • Enforcement: States taking action in respect of human rights violations by other states

Recommended Materials

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled. 

Preliminery Reading

This is a graduate level international law course. Students who have not taken a module in public international law, or who have not done so for a considerable amount of time, are strongly advised to read a general textbook in advance of commencing the course. An understanding of the sources in international law and the law of state responsibility is assumed. Two suggested books to look at would be James Crawford, Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law (OUP, 2012) and Vaughan Lowe, International Law (OUP 2007).  More generally, students may also wish to look at relevant entries in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (OUP, available online [subscription or institutional access required] at www.mpepil.com). 

Key Information

Module details
Credit value:45 credits (450 learning hours)
Convenor:Ralph Wilde
Other Teachers:TBD
Teaching Delivery:20 x 2 Hour Weekly Seminar, Term One and Two
Who may enrol:LLM Students Only
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in International Law; 
LLM in Human Rights Law 
Practice Assessment:Students may submit an answer to a past exam question to obtain feedback 
Final Assessment:Controlled Condition Exam (100%)