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School of Law

SOLM069 International Human Rights Law: History, Theory and Politics

Module Description

This module explores the history, theory and politics of international human rights. It will explore both traditional and revisionist accounts of the philosophical and historical foundations of international human rights. It introduces the students to the main critiques of rights, from the early critiques of natural rights, including the Marxist critiques of rights, to feminist and post-colonial critiques, exploring the different strands within each of these schools of thought, all of which have generated considerable debates. Through these different lenses, it aims to engage the students with the ambivalence of international human rights, both as a concept, and as a contemporary praxis and ideology. The course closes by putting these theoretical insights and foundations into practice by looking at two contemporary phenomena that illustrate the ambivalence of the human rights project, namely the war on terror and the advent of neoliberalism.

Week 1: Foundations
1. Conceptions of Human Rights
2. Philosophical Foundations

Week 2: Histories
3. Traditional Histories
4. Revisionist Histories

Week 3 & 4: Critiques
5. Realism and Utilitarianism
6. Marxist Critiques
7. Feminist Critiques
8. Post-Colonial Critiques

Week 5: Contemporary Politics
9. Human Rights and the War on Terror
10. Human Rights and Neoliberalism

Applicable Groupings


15 Credits

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