Contemporary Issues in Human Rights and Cultural Diversity

The details
Human Rights Centre
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
16 April 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module will provide students with an opportunity to examine contemporary issues and debates in an important and highly topical area of interest for human rights theory and practice. The approach taken will be broadly multi-disciplinary. We will focus upon a broad and detailed range of controversial and challenging questions for protecting human rights within a globally complex world.

The module combines the examination of the conceptual context and the practical application of human rights within culturally complex circumstances. Students will study the philosophical basis of human rights claims combined with the legal framework for applying human rights amidst cultural and religious conflict. Specifically, students will then study specific applications of human rights including the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of women, language rights, controversies surrounding hate speech and cultural toleration.

Module aims

No information available.

Module learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, students will:

Have gained a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of the concept of culture and its relevance for the theory and practice of human rights.

Have gained a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of the ethics and politics of the so-called 'multi-culturalism'.

Have gained a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary relationship between religion and the doctrine of human rights.

Have explored the significance of state secularism for the application of human rights within culturally diverse societies.

Have gained a satisfactory knowledge and understanding of existing tensions between respecting cultural diversity and compliance with human rights.

Have examined specific areas of interest in this area, including the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.


  • Niaz A. Shah. (no date) 'Women's Human Rights in the Koran: An Interpretive Approach', in Human Rights Quarterly: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Gilbert, G. (2008) 'The cultural and political autonomy of minorities', in L'Observatuer des Nations Unies. vol. 23, pp.225-250
  • Fagan, Andrew. (2017) Human rights and cultural diversity: core Issues and cases, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Margalit, Avishai; Raz, Joseph. (1990) 'National Self-determination', in Journal of Philosophy. vol. 87 (9) , pp.439-461
  • Bowden, B. (2005) 'The Colonial Origins of International Law - European Expansion and the Classical Standard of Civilization', in Journal of the History of International Law. vol. 7 (1)
  • African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child,
  • Statute of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Approved by Resolution Nº 447 taken by the General Assembly of the OAS at its ninth regular session, held in La Paz, Bolivia, October 1979), of the Commission.htm
  • Statute of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Adopted by the General Assembly of the OAS at its Ninth Regular Session, held in La Paz Bolivia, October 1979 (Resolution Nº 448)),
  • Fujita, Sanae. (2018) 'Human Rights', in Routledge handbook of democratization in East Asia, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Champagne, Duane. (2013) 'UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples): Human, Civil, and Indigenous Rights', in Wicazo Sa Review. vol. 28 (1) , pp.9-
  • Bangkok Declaration on Human Rights (1993),
  • African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR),
  • Freeman, Michael. (2013) 'Universalism of human rights and cultural diversity', in Routledge handbook of international human rights law, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.49-62
  • Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women "Convention of Belem do Para" (Adopted in Belém do Pará, Brasil, on June 9, 1994, at the twenty fourth regular session of the General Assembly), of Belem Do Para.htm
  • Saeed, Abdullah. (2012) 'Pre-Modern Islamic Legal Restrictions on Freedom of Religion with Particular Reference to Apostasy and Its Punishment', in Islamic law and international human rights law: searching for common ground?, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Nigel S. Rodley. (1995) 'Conceptual Problems in the Protection of Minorities - International Legal Developments', in Human Rights Quarterly: The Johns Hopkins University Press. vol. 17, pp.48-71
  • Robert K. Goldman. (no date) 'History and Action: the Inter-American Human Rights System and the Role of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights', in Human Rights Quarterly: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (19 November 2012), Human Rights Declaration
  • Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity,
  • Rodríguez-Pinzón, Diego. (2011) 'Selected Examples of the Contemporary Practice of the Inter-American System in Confronting Grave Violations of Human Rights: United States and Colombia', in Making peoples heard: essays on human rights in honour of Gudmundur Alfredsson, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
  • Gómez Isa, Felipe. (2017) 'The Decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the Awas Tingni vs. Nicaragua Case (2001): The Implementation Gap', in The Age of Human Rights Journal. vol. 8, pp.67-91
  • Smith, RKM. (2017) International Human Rights Law: OUP.
  • Kaime, Thoko. (2010) ''Vernacularising' the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Rights and Culture as Analytic Tools', in The International Journal of Children's Rights. vol. 18 (4) , pp.637-653
  • Viljoen, Frans. (2012) International human rights law in Africa, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Muntarbhorn, Vitit. (2013) 'The South-East Asian System for Human Rights Protection', in Routledge handbook of international human rights law, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim. (2014) 'Epilogue: The Normative Relevance of Sharia in the Modern Context,', in The Ashgate research companion to Islamic law, Farnham: Ashgate., pp.307-319
  • Sunder, Madhavi. (2001-12) 'Cultural Dissent', in Stanford Law Review. vol. 54 (3) , pp.495-
  • Susan Waltz. (no date) 'Universal Human Rights: The Contribution of Muslim States', in Human Rights Quarterly: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Avishai Margalit; Halbertal, Moshe. (2004) 'Liberalism and the Right to Culture', in Social Research: The Johns Hopkins University Press. vol. 71, pp.529-548
  • Mayer, Ann Elizabeth. (c2013) Islam and human rights: tradition and politics, Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
  • American Convention on Human Rights (Adopted at the Inter-American Specialized Conference on Human Rights, San José, Costa Rica, 22 November 1969), Convention.htm
  • Keal, Paul. (2003) 'Dispossession and the Purposes of International Law', in European conquest and the rights of indigenous peoples: the moral backwardness of international society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. vol. 92
  • Parekh, Bhikhu. (1999) 'Non-ethnocentric universalism', in Human rights in global politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol),
  • The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam,
  • American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Adopted by the Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogotá, Colombia, 1948), Declaration.htm
  • Tittermore, B. D. (c1994-) 'Ending Impunity in the Americas: The Role of the Inter-American Human Rights System in Advancing Accountability for Serious Crimes under International Law', in Southwestern journal of international law, Los Angeles, Calif: Southwestern University School of Law. (2)

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Andrew Fagan, email:
Dr Andrew Fagan, Dr Eadaoin O'Brien, Professor Ahmed Shaheed, Professor Nigel Rodley & various academics from other departments
Kylie Sayer, Administrator, telephone: 01206 874461 email:



External examiner

Dr Thomas Pegram
University College London
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Human Rights Centre

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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