21810218 - SEMINAR - A ‘CRISIS’ FOR HUMAN RIGHTS? INTERNATIONAL LAW PERSPECTIVES

The Course aims to 1) develop in the students the general knowledge and understanding of international human rights law that is necessary to 2) enable them to critically analyse and discuss the alleged ‘crisis’ of human rights (together with its main legal, political, economic and ethical aspects) in light of existing international law, its recent developments and future perspectives. Accordingly, a first part of the course will introduce international human rights, the relevant legal framework, and the debate surrounding the purported ‘crisis’ of human rights. The second part of the course, instead, will explore such alleged ‘crisis’ with regard to selected relevant international law issues (including the human rights implications of new ICTs, the realisation of sexual and reproductive rights, and the consequences for socio-economic rights of mounting public and private debt levels).

FOCARELLI CARLO

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Programme

Over the past few years, a number of key international organizations have expressed their concern over, on one side, the progressive erosion of even the most basic human rights together with, on the other, the strengthening in many States of authoritarian regimes and ‘souverainist’ governments, an intensified discrediting of multilateral cooperation, and the questioning, when not the explicit denunciation, of existing international obligations. Scholars and reliable media sources have alluded to an “end” of human rights: these would be ‘inadequate’ to sway the reality of the contemporary globalised world. Furthermore, the idea that, in the past decades, the human rights movement has essentially “failed” is increasingly making inroads. However, what is meant by this ‘crisis’ of human rights? Is it actual and irreversible? And what is, or should be, the role of international law on the matter?

The course aims at a) equipping the students with the knowledge of international law necessary to b) analyse critically the ongoing legal debate around the alleged ‘crisis’ of human rights (and its political, economic and ethical aspects), in light of existing international rules, and their most recent developments and future prospects.


Core Documentation

Besides a general list of recommended readings (see below), specific bibliographies will be provided for each class.

1. Carlo Focarelli, ‘Neoliberismo globale e persona umana’, in Carlo Focarelli, Costruttivismo giuridico e giurisdizioni internazionali (Milano, Kluwer/Cedam, 2019), cap. III, pp. 265-300.
2. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2017/18: The State of the World’s Human Rights (2018)
3. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2019 (Events of 2018)
4. World Justice Project, WJP Rule of Law Index 2017–2018
4.1. ‘“A crisis for human rights”: new index reveals global fall in basic justice’, The Guardian (31 January 2018)
5. Freedom House: https://freedomhouse.org/
5.1. ‘Freedom in the World 2018’
5.2. Various special reports on freedomhouse.org (e.g. on far-right extremism in Ukraine, or changes to legal system in Poland)
6. Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (Harvard University Press 2018)
6.1. ---, ‘How the Human Rights Movement Failed’, The New York Times (23 April 2018)
7. Kathryn Sikkink, Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century (Princeton University Press 2017)
7.1. ---, ‘Rethinking the notion of a human rights crisis’, OpenGlobalRights (31 July 2018)
8. David Rieff, ‘The End of Human Rights?’, Foreign Policy (9 April 2018)
9. Ingrid Wuerth, ‘A Global Downturn in Human Rights: Implications for International Law’, Lawfare (27 June 2016)
10. Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, ‘The human rights crisis: a problem of perception?’, OpenDemocracy (24 June 2015)
11. Rachel Krys, ‘In the UK, public discourse undermines support for human rights’, OpenDemocracy (20 April 2015)
12. Eric Posner, The Twilight of Human Rights Law (OUP 2014)
12.1. ---, ‘The twilight of human rights law’, OpenGlobalRights (25 November 2014)
13. Stephen Hopgood, The Endtimes of Human Rights (Cornell University Press, 2013)
14. Stefano Rodotà, ‘L’età dei diritti al crepuscolo?’ in Michelangelo Bovero (a cura di), Il Futuro di Norberto Bobbio (Editori Laterza, 2011) pp. 62-75
15. David Kennedy, ‘The International Human Rights Movement: Part of the Problem?’ (2002) 15 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 101
16. Costas Douzinas, The End of Human Rights: Critical Thought at the Turn of the Century (Hart Publishing, 2000)


Reference Bibliography

1. Carlo Focarelli, ‘Neoliberismo globale e persona umana’, in Carlo Focarelli, Costruttivismo giuridico e giurisdizioni internazionali (Milano, Kluwer/Cedam, 2019), cap. III, pp. 265-300. 2. Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2017/18: The State of the World’s Human Rights (2018) 3. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2019 (Events of 2018) 4. World Justice Project, WJP Rule of Law Index 2017–2018 4.1. ‘“A crisis for human rights”: new index reveals global fall in basic justice’, The Guardian (31 January 2018) 5. Freedom House: https://freedomhouse.org/ 5.1. ‘Freedom in the World 2018’ 5.2. Various special reports on freedomhouse.org (e.g. on far-right extremism in Ukraine, or changes to legal system in Poland) 6. Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (Harvard University Press 2018) 6.1. ---, ‘How the Human Rights Movement Failed’, The New York Times (23 April 2018) 7. Kathryn Sikkink, Evidence for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21st Century (Princeton University Press 2017) 7.1. ---, ‘Rethinking the notion of a human rights crisis’, OpenGlobalRights (31 July 2018) 8. David Rieff, ‘The End of Human Rights?’, Foreign Policy (9 April 2018) 9. Ingrid Wuerth, ‘A Global Downturn in Human Rights: Implications for International Law’, Lawfare (27 June 2016) 10. Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, ‘The human rights crisis: a problem of perception?’, OpenDemocracy (24 June 2015) 11. Rachel Krys, ‘In the UK, public discourse undermines support for human rights’, OpenDemocracy (20 April 2015) 12. Eric Posner, The Twilight of Human Rights Law (OUP 2014) 12.1. ---, ‘The twilight of human rights law’, OpenGlobalRights (25 November 2014) 13. Stephen Hopgood, The Endtimes of Human Rights (Cornell University Press, 2013) 14. Stefano Rodotà, ‘L’età dei diritti al crepuscolo?’ in Michelangelo Bovero (a cura di), Il Futuro di Norberto Bobbio (Editori Laterza, 2011) pp. 62-75 15. David Kennedy, ‘The International Human Rights Movement: Part of the Problem?’ (2002) 15 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 101 16. Costas Douzinas, The End of Human Rights: Critical Thought at the Turn of the Century (Hart Publishing, 2000)

Type of delivery of the course

This is a two-part module. After introducing, in the first part, fundamental aspects of international human rights law and the idea and nature of their alleged ‘crisis’, the second part of the module will examine four areas where the ‘crisis’ of human rights may be apparent: 1. International migrations and human rights; 2. Sexual and reproductive rights; 3. Poverty, debt and socio-economic rights; 4. Human rights and technological developments.

Attendance

Attendance to the course is mandatory, and absences will be execused on a case-by-case basis. Only students who have missed one or, exceptionally, two classes will be allowed to take the exam. Attendance will be monitored through a register, and the second absence must be excused with a formal note, e.g. a medical certificate.

Type of evaluation

The module will be assessed by coursework. Students are expected to produce 1) a research essay (min. 3,000 – max. 5,000 words) on a topic of their choice, clearly related to the module’s contents. The pertinence of the chosen topic will be approved by the teacher, by assessing a 2) research proposal that each student is expected to produce in advance of the essay. This proposal must include: a) the intended title of the essay, b) its provisional outline, c) a short abstract and d) a short selected bibliography. Once completed, the essay will be sent for assessment to the teacher via email.