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International Human Rights Law

Learn how an individual’s human rights are protected from both public and private power by international laws.

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Estimated 12 weeks
6–8 hours per week
Self-paced
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About this course

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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 a glance

  • Institution: LouvainX
  • Subject: Law
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:

    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.

What you'll learn

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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

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

Learner testimonials

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"I think it is hard but worth it. I discovered areas still unknown for me through all the modules included in the course I will highly recommend it. The instructor was excellent introducing the subjects in every module and the content interactive with the discussions and small test that help you with the final test." A learner on Coursetalk

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

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