International Human Rights Law: Law and Practice

The details
Law (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
01 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

LLM M2M012 Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
LLM M10524 International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law,
LLM M10112 International Human Rights Law,
LLM M10A12 International Human Rights Law (Economic Relations)

Module description

The module covers the United Nations machinery for the promotion and protection of human rights.

It also covers the major global human rights treaties; the regional systems of Europe, the Americas and Africa; universality and cultural relativism; the right to life; the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the prohibition of enforced disappearance; equality and non- discrimination; religious intolerance; freedom of expression; the protection of minorities; fair trial; economic, social and cultural rights; states of emergency and counter-terrorism, state responsibility; accountability of non-state actors; freedom of association; right to food; right to health; human rights and development and national implementation of human rights commitments.

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with an analytical, critical and contextual introduction to international human rights law. It includes both international and regional norms, institutions and processes, as well as some issues arising from the national implementation of these norms. The course is designed to provide a solid legal foundation on the basis of which students will pursue their more specialised optional courses and human rights research.

While the scope and depth of the subject does not permit LW901 to cover all relevant issues, it aims to familiarise students with the major contemporary features and debates within international human rights law. Further, it provides students with an opportunity to develop their analytical skills in relation to the international law of human rights.

Module learning outcomes

No information available.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

In addition to the LW901 lectures or whole group sessions, the course includes Discussion Groups (DGs). The emphasis here is on your participation. DGs are designed to examine in more depth some of the issues arising from, or related to, the weekly lectures by way of role-plays or discussions. Students are placed in four Discussion Groups. Discussion Groups do not run every week so please check the dates when they run in the timetable of the module. There are a total of eight DGs during the year. This is also a compulsory element of LW901.


  • Langford, Malcolm. (2015-07) 'Rights, Development and Critical Modernity', in Development and Change. vol. 46 (4) , pp.777-802
  • Claridge, Lucy. (2018) 'Litigation as a Tool for Community Empowerment: The Case of Kenya's Ogiek', in Erasmus L.Rev. vol. 11 (1) , pp.57-66201811
  • Hannum, Hurst; Hurst, Hannum. (2016) 'Reinvigorating Human Rights for the Twenty-First Century', in Hum. Rts. L.. vol. 16 (2016) , pp.409-4522016
  • Joseph, Sarah. (2011) Blame it on the WTO?: a human rights critique, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Gaer, Felice. (2014) 'The High Commissioners and the Special Procedures: Colleagues and Competitors', in United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Conscience for the World, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff. vol. v. 3, pp.133-156
  • Kaleidoscope Trust, https://kaleidoscopetrust.com/about-us/
  • Winkler, Inga T.; Satterthwaite, Margaret L. (2017-10-13) 'Leaving no one behind? Persistent inequalities in the SDGs', in The International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 21 (8) , pp.1073-1097
  • Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe, https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectID=09000016805d534d
  • Rao, Rahul. (2014-09-01) 'The locations of homophobia', in London Review of International Law. vol. 2 (2) , pp.169-199
  • Gilbert, G; Rüsch, AM. (2018) 'International Refugee and Migration Law', in International law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • (March 2000) UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment 28, HRI/GEN/1/Rev.9 (Vol. I)..
  • MacKinnon, Catharine A. (2006) Are women human?: and other international dialogues, Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • United Nations Official Document- General Assembly Resolution 70/1, Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development., https://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E
  • (no date) Principles Relating to the Status and Functioning of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (Paris Principles) April (1993).
  • Davitti, Daria. (2019) Investment and human rights in armed conflict: charting an elusive intersection, Chicago, Illinois: Hart Publishing.
  • (August 2018) UN Secretary-General, Status of the human rights treaty body system, 2nd Status Report, UN Doc A/73/309.
  • Morris, Nicholas. (1997) 'Protection Dilemmas and UNHCR's Response: A Personal View from within UNHCR', in Int'l J. Refugee. vol. 9 (1997) , pp.492-4991997
  • Alston, Philip. (2014) 'Against a World Court for Human Rights', in Ethics & International Affairs. vol. 28 (2) , pp.197-212
  • Williams, Carmel; Hunt, Paul. (2017-10-13) 'Neglecting human rights: accountability, data and Sustainable Development Goal 3', in The International Journal of Human Rights. vol. 21 (8) , pp.1114-1143
  • Carver, Richard. (2010) 'A New Answer to an Old Question: National Human Rights Institutions and the Domestication of International Law', in Hum. Rts. L.. vol. 10 (2010) , pp.1-32201010
  • Samuels, Harriet. (2018) 'Public Interest Litigation and the Civil Society Factor', in Legal. vol. 38 (2018) , pp.515-528201838
  • Alston, Philip; Goodman, Ryan; Steiner, Henry J. (2013) International human rights: the successor to international human rights in context: law, politics and morals: text and materials, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • (no date) Belgium v Senegal, Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite.
  • OHCHR | UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, https://www.ohchr.org/en/issues/srhrdefenders/pages/declaration.aspx
  • UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment 31: The nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to ICCPR, (2004), https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2f21%2fRev.1%2fAdd.13&Lang=en
  • Rishmawi, Mervat. (2010) 'The Arab Charter on Human Rights and the League of Arab States: An Update', in Hum. Rts. L.. vol. 10 (2010) , pp.169-1782010
  • Eslava, LuisPahuja, Sundhya. (2011) 'Between Resistance and Reform: TWAIL and the Universality of International Law', in Trade L. &. vol. 3 (2011) , pp.103-
  • Amartya Sen; Sen, Amartya. (2004) 'Elements of a Theory of Human Rights', in Philosophy & Public. vol. 32 (4) , pp.315-356
  • Report of the Secretary General to the General Assembly on Renewing the United Nations: a Programme for Reform, https://undocs.org/A/51/950
  • Toonen v. Australia, Communication No. 488/1992, U.N. Doc CCPR/C/50/D/488/1992 (1994)., http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/undocs/html/vws488.htm
  • Wendy Brown. (2004) ''The Most We Can Hope For. . . ': Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism', in 'The Most We Can Hope For. . . ': Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism. vol. 103 (2) , pp.451-463
  • Larking, Emma. (2014) 'Universal Periodic Review's First Cycle: Successes and Failures', in Human Rights and the Universal Periodic Review: Rituals and Ritualism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., pp.87-108
  • Crenshaw, K. (1989) 'Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics', in University of Chicago Legal Forum., pp.139-168
  • Correia, Joel E. (2018) 'Adjudication and Its Aftereffects in Three Inter-American Court Cases Brought against Paraguay: Indigenous Land Rights', in Erasmus L.Rev. vol. 11 (1) , pp.43-56201811
  • Ignatieff, Michael; Gutmann, Amy. (c2001) Human rights as politics and idolatry, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Gilbert, G.; Rusch, A. M. (2014-12-01) 'Jurisdictional Competence Through Protection: To What Extent Can States Prosecute the Prior Crimes of Those to Whom They Have Extended Refuge?', in Journal of International Criminal Justice. vol. 12 (5) , pp.1093-1114
  • Chimni, B. S. (2006) 'Third World Approaches to International Law: A Manifesto', in Int'l Comm. L.. vol. 8 (2006) , pp.3-2820068
  • Meyer, David S.; Boutcher, Steven A. (2017) Signals and Spillover: Brown v. Board of Education and Other Social Movements. vol. 5
  • Luban, David. (2010) 'Carl Schmitt and the Critique of Lawfare', in Case W. Res. J. Int'l. vol. 43 (2010) , pp.457-4722010
  • Clark, Ann Marie. (c2001) Diplomacy of conscience: Amnesty International and changing human rights norms, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Stephen P. Marks. (2014) Human Rights: A Brief Introduction, Cambridge, MA: Harvard School of Public Health.
  • Landman, Todd. (c2005) Protecting human rights: a comparative study, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
  • Nils Melzer. (2014) 'The Principle of Distinction Between Civilians and Combatants', in The Oxford handbook of international law in armed conflict, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Alston, Philip. (2017-02) 'The Populist Challenge to Human Rights', in Journal of Human Rights Practice. vol. 9 (1) , pp.1-15
  • Dworkin, Ronald. (1984) 'Rights as Trumps', in Theories of rights, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.153-167
  • Schachter, O. (1981) 'The Obligation to Implement [ICCPR] in Domestic Law', in The International Bill of Rights: the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, New York: Columbia University Press.
  • UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights Committee, General Comment 9: The domestic application of ICESCR (1998), https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=E%2fC.12%2f1998%2f24&Lang=en
  • Bantekas, Ilias; Oette, Lutz. (2016) International human rights law and practice, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  • Phan, Hao Duy. (2008) 'The Evolution towards an Asean Human Rights Body', in Asia-Pac. J. on Hum. Rts. &. vol. 9 (2008) , pp.1-1220089
  • Enzo Cannizzaro. (2014) 'Proportionality in the Law of Armed Conflict', in The Oxford handbook of international law in armed conflict, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • KATHRYN SIKKINK. (2011) 'Making Tyrants Do Time.', in New York. vol. 160 (Issue 55530)
  • (no date) The State of the Netherlands v. Urgenda Foundation, Hague Court of Appeal, 9 October 2018.
  • (no date) ILGA World, 'State-Sponsored Homophobia,' 2019.
  • Charlesworth, H.; Chinkin, C.; Wright, S. (1991) 'Feminist Approaches to International Law', in American Journal of International Law. vol. 85 (4) , pp.613-645
  • Barreto, José-Manuel. (2013) 'Introduction: Decolonial Strategies and Dialogue in the Human Rights Field', in Human Rights from a Third World Perspective: Critique, History and International Law, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge University Press., pp.1-38
  • Otto, Dianne. (2018) 'The (im)possibility of queering international human rights law', in Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks, New York, NY: Routledge., pp.131-147
  • Otto, Dianne. (2018) 'Homoglobalism: the emergence of global gay governance', in Queering International Law: Possibilities, Alliances, Complicities, Risks, New York, NY: Routledge., pp.148-170
  • The UN Mapping Report Documenting Serious Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo | ASIL, https://www.asil.org/insights/volume/14/issue/38/un-mapping-report-documenting-serious-crimes-democratic-republic-congo
  • Kiai, Maina. (May 2012) - UN General Assembly, 'Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
  • Jetschke, Anja; Liese, Andrea. (2013) 'The Power of Human Rights a decade after: from euphoria to contestation?', in The persistent power of human rights: from commitment to compliance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. vol. 126, pp.26-42
  • (no date) UN OHCHR, “Report of the Mapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Refworld | Yogyakarta Principles - Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, https://www.refworld.org/docid/48244e602.html
  • Charlesworth, Hilary; Chinkin, C. M. (2000) The boundaries of international law: a feminist analysis, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Charlesworth, Hilary; Chinkin, Christine; Wright, Shelley. (1991-10) 'Feminist Approaches to International Law', in The American Journal of International Law. vol. 85 (4) , pp.613-
  • Cryer. (2018) 'International Criminal Law'', in International law, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.743-773
  • Christine Bell. (2016) 'The Fabric of Transitional Justice: Binding Local and Global Political Settlements', in Transitional Justice, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Muchlinski, PT. (2013) 'International finance and investment and human rights', in Routledge handbook of international human rights law, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.263-284
  • Sikkink, Kathryn. (2017) 'Chapter 6: What Does and Doesn't Work to Promote Human Rights', in Evidence for hope: making human rights work in the 21st century, Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press., pp.181-223
  • Kennedy, David. (2002) 'International Human Rights Movement: Part of the Problem?', in Harv. Hum. Rts.. vol. 15 (2002) , pp.101-1262002
  • (2018) International human rights law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Sivakumaran, Sandesh. (2018) 'International Humanitarian Law', in International human rights law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hunt, Paul; and others. (2013) 'Implementation of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights', in Routledge Handbook of International Human Rights Law, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Peel Jacqueline; Osofsky, Hari M. (2018) 'A Rights Turn in Climate Change Litigation?', in Transnational Environmental Law. vol. 7 (2018) , pp.37-6820187
  • Mutua, Makau. (no date) The Transformation of Africa: A Critique of Rights Discourse,' in Felipe Gomez Isa and Koen de Feyter., pp.899-924
  • Dinstein, Yoram. (2016) 'Lawful targets of attack', in The conduct of hostilities under the law of international armed conflict, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  • Deva, Surya. (c2012) Regulating corporate human rights violations: humanizing business, Abingdon: Routledge.

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.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Foundation Essay LW901     
Coursework   LW901: Term I Assignment    50% 
Coursework   LW901: Essay Term II    50% 
Exam  195 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
20% 80%


Coursework Exam
20% 80%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Carla Ferstman, email: cf16045@essex.ac.uk.
Jude Bueno de Mesquita; Dr Andrew Fagan; Dr Carla Ferstman; Professor Geoff Gilbert; Dr Emily Jones; Professor Noam; Dr Daragh Murray, Dr Patricia Palacios Zuloaga; Dr Ahmed Shaheed; Dr Tara Van Ho



External examiner

Prof Julia Shaw
De Montfort University
Professor of Law
Available via Moodle
Of 89 hours, 88 (98.9%) hours available to students:
1 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Law (School of)

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

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