National Protection of Human Rights: University of Hong Kong

This course provides an opportunity to explore human rights in their national, social and institutional contexts. Students will explore the important themes of national protection of human rights with an emphasis on Asia. Particular attention will be paid to domestic constitutional questions such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law. In the absence of a formal regional human rights regime, advocates in Asia have relied more completely on domestic constitutionalism and local institutional practices to articulate and implement human rights commitments. This has made the human rights debate more seriously a matter of local politics and legal culture. Lawmakers, jurists, and activists in Asia have had a noteworthy engagement with some of the central themes in the human rights debate, relating human rights to culture, to the political economy of development, democratization, autonomy, and development of civil society.

 

Human Rights History, Theory and Politics: University of Hong Kong

The international human rights framework took shape in a particular historical moment, and has since become a common vehicle for people around the globe to identify and demand redress for injustices. Yet even in the present day, the field of human rights is dynamic, with emerging crises and transnational social movements reshaping what is plausibly understood as a human right. This course considers persistent and emerging debates in the field, building on the traditional foundations of human rights to consider the utility and promise of human rights as a vehicle for transformation in the present day. The course will begin by considering what it means when we say that something is a human right, revisiting philosophical, cultural, and political debates. We will then turn to questions surrounding the institutionalization of human rights, their limitations, and how the enjoyment of rights might be maximized in practice. Next, we will examine contemporary frontiers of human rights, and pressing questions about the nature of human rights in social crisis, equality and discrimination, inequality and poverty, and dignity and degradation. Finally, we will conclude with an examination of human rights in the current moment, and their promises and pitfalls in contemporary times.

Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic: Yale Law School

Students will work on a variety of human rights projects, generally in support of advocacy efforts of human rights organizations. Projects are designed to give students practical experience with the range of activities in which lawyers engage to promote respect for human rights; to help students build the knowledge and skills necessary to be effective human rights lawyers; and to integrate the theory and practice of human rights. Class sessions will include an overview of basic human rights standards and their application; instruction in human rights research and writing skills; and critical examination of approaches to human rights advocacy and enforcement. 

Theories, Practices, and Politics of Human Rights: Yale College

This class aims to introduce students to the history, language, theories, practices, and controversies of human rights. We hope to equip students to engage in human rights discourse and think critically about human rights law and institutions, understanding their context, assumptions, power, and limitations and where they fit among other conceptualizations of justice. The class considers the different ways "human rights" function as a legal instrument, philosophical construct, a political tool, a social agenda, and as a locus of public contestation and legitimation. By thinking of "human rights" in different ways, we can explore how changes in human rights norms and practice arise and are challenged and instantiated, whether in rhetoric, in law, by political regimes, or by social movements. The class examines the philosophical and historical foundations of human rights ideas and institutions and the contemporary international human rights system, as well as the regional systems in the Americas, Europe, and Africa. Topics explored include international criminal justice; civil and political rights; social and economic rights; the rights of refugees, women, children, and LGBTI people; poverty and inequality; the rise of social media; and contemporary debates on advocacy and the future course of human rights law and politics. 

The Law and Politics of Sexual Orientation: John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The course explores legal and political issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States. It focuses in particular on contests over the criminalization of same-sex activity; the enactment of legal protections for LGBT people and their families; the marriage equality movement; and contemporary debates over the scope of federal non-discrimination protections, transgender rights, and exemptions for those who object to LGBT equality on religious grounds. The course aims to give students a deeper appreciation of the constraints, opportunities, and strategic choices that have shaped the development of LGBT rights in law and policy, both historically and in the present day.