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Key Information

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verified_user Fee-based Certificate
timer 72 hours in total

About the content

Human rights are developed through the constant dialogue between international human rights bodies and domestic courts, in a search that crosses geographical, cultural and legal boundaries. The result is a unique human rights grammar, which this course shall discuss and question, examining the sources of human rights, the rights of individuals, the duties of States, and the mechanisms of protection.

We shall rely extensively on comparative material from different jurisdictions, to study a wide range of topics including, religious freedom in multicultural societies, human rights in employment relationships, economic and social rights in development, or human rights in the context of the fight against terrorism.

At the end of the course you’ll be able to:

  • Analyze and comment on key controversies surrounding the development of international human rights law
  • Use conceptual tools to follow the developments of human rights law
  • Be most effective in contributing to the enforcement of international human rights law

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Prerequisite

Knowledge of the fundamentals of International Law (subjects and sources of International Law/ principles governing international responsibility). Such knowledge may be acquired by the successful completion of Louv5x – International Law.

In addition, students should be familiar with the requirements of graduate-level courses and should preferably have already followed some law courses in order to be familiar with legal concepts and legal language.

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Syllabus

1. What are human rights?
1.1. The sources of human rights law
1.2. Human rights and the theory of sources
1.3. The special nature of human rights
1.4. The question of reservations to human rights treaties
1.5. The jus commune of human rights

2. To which situations do human rights apply?
2.1. Jurisdiction – an introduction
2.2. Human rights, State sovereignty, and national territory
2.3. The typology of human rights: respect – protect – fulfill
2.4. Situations of emergency and derogations

3. When may human rights be restricted?
3.1. The absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment
3.2. Deportation of aliens and the prohibition of ill-treatment
3.3. Limitations to human rights: legitimacy
3.4. Limitation to human rights: legality
3.5. Limitation to human rights: necessity

4. When must the State intervene to protect human rights?
4.1. The State’s duty to protect human rights: introduction
4.2. Waiver of rights
4.3. Conflicts between human rights in inter-individual relationships
4.4. Transnational corporations

5. How much must States do to fulfill human rights?
5.1. The duty to fulfill – introduction
5.2. What are human rights-based policies?
5.3. How is progress measured? Indicators and benchmarks
5.4. How much is enough? “Progressive realization”

6. What is discrimination?
6.1. When does the non-discrimination requirement apply?
6.2. What are the States’ obligations?
6.3. How to address profiling and stereotyping?
6.4. What is discrimination?

7. How are human rights protected at domestic level?
7.1. What is the right to an effective remedy?
7.2. The justiciability of social rights
7.3. The role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)

8. How are human rights protected at international level?
8.1. The Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review
8.2. The Human Rights Council and its Special Procedures
8.3. UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and individual communications

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Instructors

Olivier De Schutter
Professor
Université catholique de Louvain

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Content Designer

UCLouvain

The creation of Universities as an institution was one of the best things to come out of the Middle Ages. The institution's commitment to extending the boundaries of human knowledge, transmitting this knowledge, and thereby increasing the humanity of the human race has kept it at the forefront of civilization in the 21st century. The Université catholique de Louvain has played a part in this process with pride since 1425.

But above all, UCL's mission to be a great European university is directed towards the future. It takes in teachers, researchers and students from far and wide and the need for strict quality control has never been higher. The internationalization of tertiary education brings new challenges. Inspired by a long history of welcoming others, the university campuses are developing into living communities.

UCL is a microcosm of the world it serves. It is a centre of knowledge and innovation, a place of cultural celebration and invention, of achievement and extending the limits of human accomplishment.

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