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Course: Human Rights I: History and Politics

Timing: MW 2:00– 3:15, Second Quarter 2005


Instructor: Roger Normand
Contact: roger@lums.edu.pk, office ext. 2228

Course Overview:

In Human Rights I, we will critically examine the history and politics of human rights
from the establishment of the first principles in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human
Rights to the proliferation of treaties, laws and norms in the present. It is said that we
now live in “the age of rights”, with human rights providing a “lingua franca” for
international discourse and a model of universal standards of justice despite having made
an appearance on the world stage less than 60 years ago. Yet widespread awareness of
human rights has not led to widespread respect for human rights. A brief glance at the
headlines shows that human rights are under attack in every corner of the globe, with the
very meaning of the term “human rights” subject to fierce debate; what one person
upholds as universal justice can be another person’s idea of tyranny. To understand this
debate, we will examine the development of human rights in historical context – what are
the philosophical bases of human rights, how were the laws established by inter-state
negotiations, what role did the United Nations and various civil society groups play in
shaping the theory and practice of human rights, which ideas were adopted and which
were dropped, whose interests were served and whose betrayed, and what might the
future hold for the idea of universal human rights?

Teaching Methodology:

The class will be a combination of lecture and class participation, with several classes
taught by guest lecturers. A modified version of the Socratic method of teaching will be
employed. In general students will be expected to participate voluntarily, but students
will also be asked to discuss readings and issues. In addition, two students will prepare a
written summary and analysis of the readings in advance of each class. These students
will be expected to lead class discussion and also prepare class notes. A compilation of
the reading summaries and class notes will be made available to all students, as well as to
future classes. There will also be three class debates as part of the participation
requirement.

Weekly Journal:

Students will maintain a human rights journal throughout the course. Each week students
will write about two pages of reflections and analysis on current events related to the
course material and discussion. After the mid-term, students will be expected to focus
the journal on one issue to develop a more in-depth analysis and understanding. The
journal will be reviewed weekly by the professor and RA and graded on a pass/fail basis.

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Evaluation:

Class Participation 15%


Mid-Term Exam 25%
Final Exam 40%
Journal 20% P/F

Course Content and Schedule:

TOPIC A – THE ORIGINS OF THE IDEA OF UNIVERSAL HUMAN RIGHTS


The first seven classes introduce students to the philosophical basis of human rights as an
ethical system that claims to represent universal standards of justice. We will look at the
origins of human rights in philosophy and religion and history. We will discuss how the
abstract principles of human rights derive from, and relate to, concrete historical struggles
for justice. We will also examine whether human rights reflect universal truths or
particular Western values, focusing on political and cultural critiques of human rights
universalism. We will also discuss the compatibility of human right law with Islamic
jurisprudence.

Class 1: Introduction, Course Overview, Syllabus Review

Readings:
o Felice, The Global New Deal: Economic and Social Human Rights in World
Politics, pp. 1-4.
o Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen, pp. 4-
13.
o Tolstoy, War and Peace, Second Epilogue, Ch. X – XII, pp. 1-8.

Class 2: Human Rights and Religion, Rights and Duties

Readings:
o Pagels, “Legitimizing a Recent Concept,”, Annals of the American Academy
of Political Science, Vol. 442 (Mar. 1979), pp. 57-62.
o Perry, “Is The Idea of Human Rights Ineliminably Religious,”, The Idea of
Human Rights – Four Inquiries, pp. 11-41.
o Radcliffe, Lauterpacht et. al., “The Rights of Man,” Transactions of the
Grotius Society, Vol. 36, (1950), pp. 13-24.

Class 3: Western Liberal Foundations

Readings:
o Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights, pp. 14-36.
o Weston, “Human Rights,” Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Aug.
1984), pp. 258-62.
o Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 2-13, 30-41, 50-52.

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Class 4: Overview of International Law of Human Rights

Readings:
o Henkin, The Age of Rights, pp. 16-29.
o Weston, “Human Rights,” Human Rights Quarterly Vol. 6, No. 3 (Aug.
1984), pp. 264-80.
o Lauterpacht, “International Law and Human Rights,” in Steiner and Alston,
International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, and Morals (2ed.
2000) pp. 147-152
o Bolton, “Is there Really ‘Law’ in International Affairs?” Transnational Law
and Contemporary Problems 10 (2000), pp. 1-5.

Class 5: Political Critiques of Human Rights

Readings:
o Marx “On the Jewish Question,” in Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 54-59.
o Fields-Narr, “Human Rights as a Holistic Concept,” Human Rights Quarterly
Vol. 14, No. 1 (Feb. 1992), pp. 1-20.
o Evans, Politics of Human Rights, pp. 6-9, 14-21.
o Tushnet, “An Essay on Rights,” in Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 94-100.

Class 6: Cultural Critiques of Human Rights

Readings:
o An-Naim, Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives: A Quest for
Consensus (1992), pp. 23-29, 427-33.
o Mutua, Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique, pp. 1-9, 15-22, 154-
57.
o Neier, “Asia’s Unacceptable Standard,” Foreign Policy, No. 92 (Autumn
1993), pp. 42-51.
o Kenyatta in Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 345-47
o Hatch in Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 369-71.

Class 7: Islam and Human Rights

Readings:
o An-Na’im, Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspectives: A Quest for
Consensus (1992) pp. 389-97.
o Tibi, “Islamic Law / Shari’a, Human Rights, Universal Morality and
International Relations,” Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 16 No. 2 (May 1994),
pp. 277-299.
o Asad, “Human Rights in Islam’ in Dawn, English daily, Pakistan (May 20,
2005).

Class 8: Class Debate

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TOPIC B – HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
The next five classes will examine the major human rights laws and standards and the
historical context in which they developed. Human rights came out of a series of failed
attempts to regulate state sovereignty through international law, starting at the Hague
with the laws of war, and then the League of Nations and its attempt to redraw world
borders and reconcile demands for equality and self-determination within a traditional
imperialist world order. With the establishment of the United Nations after World War
II, human rights were for the first time enshrined in international law. We will examine
the historical tensions and political rivalries that produced the UDHR and subsequent
treaties, as well as rights to self-determination and to development. We will also look at
the tensions between popular demands for justice and state insistence on maintaining
sovereignty and means of oppression.

Class 9: Roots of Modern Human Rights Framework

Readings:
o Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights, 72-79, 106-13, 123-30
o Burgers, “The Road to San Francisco: The Revival of the Human Rights Idea
in the Twentieth Century,” Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 4 (Nov., 1992), pp.
450-4, 464-68, 471-76
o Zaidi and Normand, Human Rights at the UN, chap. 1

Class 10: Birth of Human Rights at the United Nations: The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights

Readings:
o Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights, pp. 140-51, 159-65,
190-93, 198-201, 220-28, 235-37
o Zaidi and Normand, Human Rights at the UN, chap. 2
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals (2ed. 2000) pp 138-41
o Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Class 11: Cold War and the Fragmentation of Human Rights Idea into Two
Covenants

Readings:
o Lauren, “The Evolution of International Human Rights,” pp. 242-48
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp. 142-145, 237-250
o Zaidi and Normand, Human Rights at the UN, chaps. 3, 4
o ICCPR and ICESR

Class 12: Decolonization and the Right to Self-Determination

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Readings:
o Lauren, “The Evolution of International Human Rights,” pp. 249-54
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp.1251-56, 1265-1271
o Zaidi-Normand, Human Rights at the UN, chap. 6
o J. Oloka-Onyango, ‘Heretical Reflections on the Right to Self-Determination:
Prospects and Problems for a Democratic Global Future in the New
Millenium, American University Law Review (1999), 15 Am. U. Int’l L. Rev.
151
o Patrick Thornberry, ‘Self-Determination, Minorities, Human Rights: A
Review of International Instruments’ The International and Comparative Law
Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Oct. 1989), 867-889

Class 13: NIEO and the Right to Development

Readings:
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp. 1319-30, 1420-22
o Alston, “Making Space for New Human Rights: The Case of the Right to
Development,” 1 Harv. Hum. Rts. Y.B. 3 (1988)
o Zaidi and Normand, Human Rights at the UN, chap. 7

Class 14: Class Debate

TOPIC C – ARCHITECTURE OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM


The next five classes will review the human rights mechanisms of the UN and the
regional systems, including treaties and treaty bodies, specialized agencies, commissions,
special rapporteurs and independent experts, resolutions and reports. We will also
examine the domestic incorporation of international human rights standards through
constitutions, implementing legislation, and national human rights institutions.

Class 15: Overview of UN System

Readings:
o Lauren, “The Evolution of International Human Rights,” pp. 260-66
o Buergenthal, et al, International Human Rights in a Nutshell, (3 ed. 2002), pp.
96-130

Class 16: Overview of Human Rights Treaties and Bodies

Readings:

o Lauren, “The Evolution of International Human Rights,” pp. 257-60


o Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 330-34, 491-98, 515-20
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp.158-224 (women’s rights and CEDAW)

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o Buergenthal, et al, International Human Rights in a Nutshell, pp. 49-56, 64-95

Class 17: Regional Systems I: Europe

Readings:
o Buergenthal, et al, International Human Rights in a Nutshell, pp. 133-150,
181-91
o Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 551-53, 595-600
o Weston, Lukes, and Hiatt, “Regional Human Rights Regimes: A Comparison
and Appraisal”, Human Rights in the World Community, pp. 244-256.
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp. 779-784, 786-88, 794-97, 801-03

Class 18: Regional Systems II; Inter-American and African

Readings:
o Henkin, Human Rights, pp. 600-607
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp. 868-880, 920-930

Class 19: Domestic Application of Human Rights

Readings:
o Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics,
and Morals, pp. 986-994, 999-1011, 1004-08

Class 20: Course Review and Class Debate