Human Rights in the Contemporary World

General Information
Number of Hours: 
Thursday 15:30 - 17:00
Preliminary requirements: 

Basic knowledge of the modern history, constitutional and international law and international political relations.

Course Description: 

1.Introduction. What Human Rights are?

2. History of HR. Students will learn the historical context of the evolution of HR and the main philosophical theories which created the fundament for its development.

3. Relation between Human Rights, the national legal order and international law.

3. Regional systems vs. the UN system of HR protection.

4. Protected rights and freedoms collected in regional and universal conventions. Theoretical and practical approach.

5. Three generations of HR. New challenges. The role of HR in a globalised and interdependent world.

6. Human Rights violations and discrimination over time and space.

7. HR during military conflicts. Genocide.

8. Minority rights as Human Rights.

9. HR as a political tool in International Relations.



Aims of the course: 

The course is designed to provide an overview to international human rights laws, mechanisms and practices. It will include the global, regional and national approaches to protecting human rights. It will introduce to the historical foundations and current practice of protecting human rights. The course will provide the student with the capacity to identify issues and problems relating to human rights, as well as demonstrate the efforts of the international society against violation of human rights.

K3. Student understands the importance of HR for policymakers, NGO’s, civil society and that the knowledge about contemporary dynamics in this field is essential for a peaceful development of international relations.
K2. Working individually and in a group student can prepare analytical models, presentations, papers and reports on a given topic.
K1. Student is qualified to formulate and verify his/her own opinion about the internal and international processes occurring mainly in the European states but also in Asia, Africa and the Americas regarding HR violations.
U4. Student is able to present a claim to international courts regarding HR violations. Students understand procedural obligations and restrictions. They are able to distinguish the role of NGO and governments and the instruments that both have at their disposal to promote HR protection.
U3. Student posses the ability to present the processes and occurrences such as democratization, populism, fundamentalism, ethnic and religious conflicts, different forms of discrimination, and is able to use them to describe the current events.
U2. Student has the skills to evaluate and describe the role HR in regional and international policy. Student is able to distinguish and differentiate the concept of “soft power” from the traditional concept of power and its implications for the HR policy of actors of IR.
U1. Student is able to properly operate the main concepts from the theory of international human rights protection and use them to understand the different approaches of  modern perception of HR.
W4. Student knows the distinction between national law, international legal order and supranational regulations and its impact to HR protection.
W3. Student is able to analyze and evaluate the meaning of the key regional and international factors  of why is so difficult to impose an effective HR global order, such as problems with democracy, the regional and global powers politics regarding HR, the coexistence of several moral, legal and ethic systems in the world.
W2. Student understands and is able to exemplify the problems of interference of different rights and the supremacy of some rights over others.
W1. Students explains the content of fundamental rights and freedoms. Student knows the important differences between political, economic, social and cultural rights.

Teaching methods: 

Classes (according to the plan of studies) with a teacher/instructor:

- lectures:

- classes:

- labs:

- other:

Evaluation & Completion: 

- monitoring attendance and progress on the course subject matter,

- semester paper (individual or group),

- oral presentation (individual or group),

- preparation and implementation of a project (individual or group)

Preparation of presentation or writing of an essay. Active participation in the discussion.

Basic Literature: 
  • S. Power, G. Allison, Realizing human rights. Moving from inspiration to impact, Palgrave 2006
  • J. Symonides, Human Rights: New Dimensions and Challanges, Aldershot 1999
  • United Nations Actions in Field of Human Rights, UN 1994
  • Michael Kirby, Human Rights and Good Governance: conjoined twins or incompatible strangers?, 3 November 2004 Chancellor's Human Rights Lecture.
  • John s. Gibson, International organizations, constitutional law and human rights, New York, Praeger, 1991
  • Wiktor Osiatynski, Human Rights and Their Limits, Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2009
  • Cultural Heritage and Human rights, Helaine Silverman and D. Fairchild Ruggles (eds.), Springer, 2007
  • Nicholar J. Wheeler, Saving strangers, Humanitarian Interventions in International Society, Oxford University Press, 2003
  • Joel e. Oestreich, Power and Priciple. Human Rights Programming in International Organizations, Georgetown University Press, 2007.
Additional Literature: 
  1. Agnieszka Bieńczyk-Missala,  Human rights in Polish foreign policy after 1989; The Polish Institute of International Affairs ; [transl.: George Szenderowicz].
  2. "Germany for Germans" : xenophobia and racist violence in Germany / Human Rights Watch/Helsinki.
  3. Dalfovo A.T., Ethics, human rights and development in Africa, R. Randle Edwards,.Louis Henkin, Andrew J. Nathan,  Human rights in contemporary China