Contemporary Issues in Human Rights

This module introduces you to human rights as a political and legal concept. It provides a critical overview of contemporary debates in the field, without losing sight of key theoretical questions. What are human rights? What is their source? In what sense are they ‘universal’ and ‘inalienable’? Following a discussion of philosophical and historical foundations the module will examine the post-World War II international legal regime for the protection of human rights. We will explore the political implications of enshrining human rights at the international level, and engage with questions of culture and diversity, development and globalization, poverty and health. You will have the opportunity to research and discuss such issues as gender-based violence, torture in the ‘war on terror’, treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. These empirical case studies of recent human rights struggles and controversies, will shed light on the complexity of global human rights politics in the early 21st century.