Instructor(s): Anna Su

Note: This course satisfies the International/Comparative/Transnational course requirement.

This course is a broad introduction to international human rights law. It will explore the historical development of international human rights in its various forms, beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights up to contemporary treaties; various forms and institutional (national, regional and international) settings in which human rights now operate; and legal and political strategies for implementing the norms that have been developed. How did an idea limited to a few European states eventually become the language of justice of the international community? What is the role of human rights norms in a world of power politics and sovereign states? Under what conditions do human rights work? Are there any viable alternatives? 

Whenever possible, the discussion of human rights law will relate to international developments as well as those within Canada. 

The goal is not to become human rights experts but to ensure that students have a competent understanding of the landscape of international human rights and are well-equipped to think through the complexities of international human rights regime today. Topics to be covered include: the universal or culturally particular nature of human rights; institutional remedies in response to massive human rights violations; social, cultural and economic rights; the application of human rights law during armed conflict; the human rights of migrants; technology and human rights; the relationship between human rights and global inequality; and the human rights implications of climate change.

Take-home, open book, 3 hour exam (70%), 750 words (3 double-spaced pages) reaction paper (20%), class attendance (5%), and participation (5%).
Academic year
2023 - 2024

At a Glance

First Term



29 JD

10 MGA


M: 11:00 am - 12:20 pm
W: 11:00 am - 12:20 pm