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Human rights course syllabus

16 September 2009

 

Syllabus

Philosophy 336, Human Rights

University of Miami

Professor James W. Nickel

 

Catalogue description:  Philosophical, legal, and political perspectives on human rights

 

Course description: This course offers philosophical, legal, and political perspectives on human rights.   After a short historical introduction to international human rights, it surveys international human rights treaties, courts, and institutions.  Next it turns to topics in human rights theory, covering some contemporary philosophical theories of human rights.  The final section explores some human rights problems and controversies such as economic and social rights, group rights, and cultural relativism.

 

Requirements:  

·         Reading, preparation, and class participation.  

·         Two short papers (5-7 pages) and two exams (midterm and final).  Each counts 25%.

 

Texts:

·         James Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, 2nd edition

·         John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (1999)

·         Online materials.

 

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Topics and Readings (by week and day)

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WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS?

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1.1.....Introduction: Human Rights Problems Today.

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

 

1.2..... The United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Charter of the United Nations (1945)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948)

Genocide Convention (UN 1948)

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2.1….. Philosophical issues about human rights.  Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, Chs. 1-3 (“The Contemporary Idea of Human Rights,” “Human Rights as Rights,” “Making Sense of Human Rights,” 1-52)

 

2.2….. Continued.

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HUMAN RIGHTS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW

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3.1.....The European Convention.

European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

(Council of Europe, 1950)

 

3.2.....The European Human Rights Court and its Jurisprudence.

The European Human Rights Court

Two cases from the Court:  Kokkinakis v. Greece (1993) and E.B. v France (2008)

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4.1.....Nuremberg as a Precedent.

Harvard Law Library Nuremberg Trials Project (browse)

Showing of Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

 

4.2.....The U.N. System.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UN 1966)

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (UN 1966)

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5.1.....The UN Human Rights Committee and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations USA (2006)

 

5.2.....International Politics and Human Rights: the UN Security Council.

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6.1.....Regional human rights systems.

African Charter on Human and People's Rights (African Union 1981)

American Convention on Human Rights (OAS 1969)

 

6.2.....Universal rights in a diverse world?  Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, Ch 11 (“Eight Responses to the Relativist,” 168-184)

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7.1….. Specialized human rights treaties.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (UN 1965)

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (UN 1979)

Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN 1989)

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN 2007)

Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, Ch 10 (“Minority Rights”, 154-167)

 

7.2….. Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.  Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (UN 1998) 

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TOPICS IN HUMAN RIGHTS THEORY

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8.1….. Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, Chs. 4-5 (“Starting Points for Justifying Human Rights” and “A Framework for Justifying Specific Rights,” 53-91)

 

8.1….. Henry Shue on Basic Rights.  Shue, Basic Rights, Chs 1 and 2.

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9.1..... Continued

 

9.2..... Gewirth’s Argument for Human Rights.  Alan Gewirth, The Community of Rights, 1-26.

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10.1….. Nickel, Making Sense of Human Rights, Ch 6 (“The List Question,” 92-105)

 

10.2….. Rawls on Human Rights.  John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 3-58

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11.1….. John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 59-88.

 

11.2….. John Rawls, The Law of Peoples,  89-128.

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HUMAN RIGHTS PROBLEMS AND CONTROVERSIES

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12.1…..  Genocide.  Sarah Sewall, “Do the Right Thing: A Genocide Policy that Works

12.2…..  Women’s Property in Africa.  Human Rights Watch, “Q&A: Women’s Property Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

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13.1….. Freedom of Religion.  AAM, “The First Freedom: Promoting International Religious Liberty, audio program” (51 min).

 

13.2….. World Poverty.   Thomas Pogge,  Severe Poverty as a Violation of Negative Duties”; Deborah Satz,  What Do We Owe the Global Poor?”

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14.1….. Pogge continued

 

14.2….. Climate Change—is it a human rights problem?  Center for International Environmental Law, “The Inuit Case.”

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Final exam

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