The course will be based on readings from two main texts (see below) in addition to several articles and items. For more background in international law students may refer to the recommended text (see below).

Required Texts

[JD] = Buy at Amazon Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. 2nd ed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780801487767.

[BR] = Buy at Amazon Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. International Law from Below. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780521016711.

Recommended Text

Buy at Amazon Janis, Mark. An Introduction to International Law. Aspen Publishers. 2003. ISBN: 9780735526495.

1 Course introduction, and organizational details; and Reading the UDHR. United Nations Human Rights. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
2 What are human rights? History, philosophy and character of the rights discourse

[JD] Chapters 1-3. 

Buy at Amazon Goodale, Mark. "Introduction." In The Practice of Human Rights. Edited by Mark Goodale and Sally Engle Merry. Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp.1-38. ISBN: 9780521683784.


Buy at Amazon Pogge, Thomas. "How Should Human Rights be Conceived?" In The Philosophy of Human Rights: Readings in Context. Edited by Patrick Hayden. St. Paul: Paragon House Publishers, 2001, pp. 187-210. ISBN: 9781557787903.

Nussbaum, Martha. "Capabilities and Human Rights." Fordham Law Review 66 (1997): 273-300.

3 Key conceptual debates: universality v. cultural relativism, public v. private, relativity of rights, liberal origins, individual v. community rights, civil v. human rights

[JD] Chapters 5-7. 


Waldron, Jeremy. "How to Argue for a Universal Claim." Columbia Human Rights Law Review 30 (1999): 305-314.

American Anthropological Association. "Statement on Human Rights." American Anthropologist 49, no. 4 (1947): 539-543.

Taylor, Charles. "A World Consensus on Human Rights?" Dissent (1996): 15-21

Beitz, Charles. "Human Rights as Common Concern." American Political Science Review 95, no. 2 (2001): 269-82.

4 Sovereignty and Self-determination?: The Impact of North-South divisions, the West v. Rest

[JD] Chapters 4 and 9. 

[RB] Chapters 3 and 7. 

Mutua, Makau. "Savages, Victims and Saviours: The Metaphor of Human Rights." 42 Harvard. Int'l Law Journal 201 (Winter 2001).

Buy at Amazon Moravcsik, Andrew. "Why is U.S. Human Rights Policy So Unilateralist?" In Multilateralism and U.S. Foreign Policy. Edited by Stewart Patrick, and Stephard Forman. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2002, pp. 345-376. ISBN: 9781588260185.


The Responsibility to Protect. Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2001), chapter 2, available at

Ignatieff, Michael. "Is the Human Rights Era Ending?" New York Times, op-ed, February 5, 2002.

———. "Human Rights: The Midlife Crisis," New York Review of Books, May 20, 1999.

5 Security v. human rights: The torture debate

Human Rights Watch. "The Legal Prohibition against torture."

CNN. Alan Dershowitz and Ken Roth Debate. March 4, 2003.

Rejali, Darius. "Torture's Dark Allure," and "Does Torture Work?" In Salon, June 18 and June 21, 2004.


Bowden, Mark. "The Dark art of Interrogation." Atlantic Monthly (October 2003).

The Washington Post. Bush Administration Documents on Interrogation Practices. June 23, 2004.

6 Economic development, globalization and poverty

[RB] Chapter 2.

[JD] Chapter 11.

Buy at Amazon Breining-Kaufmann, Christine. "Legal Matrix of Human Rights and Trade Law: State Obligations versus Private Rights and Obligations." In Human Rights and International Trade. Edited by Thomas Cottier, et al. Oxford University Press, 2006, pp.95-136. ISBN: 9780199285839.


"Righting wrongs," The Economist, August 18-24, 2001, 18-20.

Pogge, Thomas. "World Poverty and Human Rights." Ethics and International Affairs 19, no. 1 (2005).

———. "The First Millenium Development Goal." Paper delivered at Carnegie Council, 2003.

Reddy, Sanjay. "Counting the Poor: The Truth about World Poverty Statistics." Socialist Register 2006, 168-179.

Bhagwati, Jagdish, and T. N. Srinivasan. "Trade and Poverty in the Poor Countries." T. N. Srinivasan, Professor of Economics, Economic Growth Center, Yale University. (PDF)#

"Human Rights and Extreme Poverty." Report of the Independent Expert to the UN Council on Human Rights. E/CN.4/2005/49, February 11, 2005.

Buy at Amazon Rahnema, Majid. "Poverty." In The Development Dictionary. Edited by Wolfgang Sachs. St. Martin's Press, 1992, pp. 158-176. ISBN: 9781856490436.

Buy at Amazon Sen, Amartya. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 in Development as Freedom. Anchor, 2000, pp. 13-53, and 87-110. ISBN: 9780385720274.

7 The push for democracy and democratization

[RB] Chapter 6.


Buy at Amazon Zakaria, Fareed. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in The Future of Freedom. Norton, 2003, pp. 89-198. ISBN: 9780393047646.

Roth, Kenneth. "War in Iraq: Not a humanitarian Intervention." Human Rights Watch, 2004.

8 International Women's rights

Buy at Amazon Brown, Wendy. "Suffering the paradoxes of rights." In Left Legalism/Left Critique. Edited by Wendy Brown and Janey Halley. Duke University Press, 2002, pp. 420-434. ISBN: 9780822329688.

[JD] Chapter 13.


Merry, Sally Engle. "Rights Talk and the Experience of Law: Implementing Women's Human Rights to Protection from Violence." Human Rights Quarterly 25, no. 2 (2003): 343-381.

Human Rights Watch. "Taking Cover: Women in Post-Taliban Afghanistan." Human Rights Watch Briefing paper, May 2002.

9 Ethnic, religious and racial violence and group rights

[JD] Chapter 12.

Kymlicka, Will. "The Good, the Bad, and the Intolerable: Minority Group Rights." Dissent Magazine, Summer 1996.


"'We Have No Orders to Save You': State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat." Human Rights Watch, April 2002.

"Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's Untouchables." Human Rights Watch, 1999.

Mutua, Makau. "Limitations on Religious Rights: Problematizing Religious Freedom in the African Context." 5 Buff. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 75 (1999).

Power, Samantha. "Bystanders to Genocide." The Atlantic Monthly, September 2001.

10 Forcible Intervention versus sovereignty

[JD] Chapter 14.

Buy at Amazon Todorov, Tzvetan. "Right to Intervene or Duty to Assist?" and Michael Ignatieff, "Human Rights, Sovereignty and Intervention." In Human Rights, Human Wrongs. Edited by Nicholas Owen. Oxford, 2003, pp. 26-88. ISBN: 9780192802194.

Buy at Amazon Farer, Tom. "Humanitarian Intervention Before and After 9/11: Legality and Legitimacy." In Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas. Edited by J. L. Holzgrefe, and Robert O. Keohane. Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 53-89. ISBN: 9780521529280.


"The Responsibility to Protect." Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (2001). (This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader.PDF - 3.8MB)

Berman, Nathaniel. "Intervention in a 'divided world': axes of legitimacy." European Journal of International Law 17, no. 4 (2006):743-769.

"Report of the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change." United Nations, 2004.

Koskenniemi, Martti. "The Lady Doth Protest too Much: Kosovo, and the Turn to Ethics in International Law." The Modern Law Review 65 (2002): 159-175.

11 Domestic avenues for realizing rights

[JD] Chapter 10.

Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. "Judicial Governance and the Ideology of Human Rights: Reflections from a Social Movement Perspective." In Human Rights, Criminal Justice and Constitutional Empowerment: Essays in Honor of Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer. Edited by C. Rajkumar, and K. Chockalingam. Oxford University Press, 2007.


Government of R. S. A. v. Grootboom, CCT 11/00 (4th October 2000, Constitutional Court of South Africa) (go to and enter "Grootboom" in the search box)

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, U.S.Supreme Court, June 29 2006. (PDF - 1.3MB)#

"Notes on Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Bush." In American Journal of International Law 98, no. 4 (October 2004): 782-797.

12 Transnational/International avenues for the realization of rights

[JD] Chapter 8. 

Simmons, Beth. Chapter 1 and 4 in Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2009).


"The Pinochet Case - A Wake-up Call to Tyrants and Victims Alike." Human Rights Watch.

Buy at Amazon Chapter 3 and 7 in Torture as Tort: Comparative Perspectives on the Development of Transnational Human Rights Litigation. Edited by Craig Scott. Hart Publishing, 2001, pp. 65-107, and 197-212. ISBN: 9781841130606.

Fox, Jonathan. "The World Bank Inspection Panel: Lessons from the First Five Years." Global Governance 6, no. 3 (July-September 2000): 279-318.

13 The role of NGOs and Social Movements

Koh, Harold. "The Third Globalization: Transnational Human Rights Networks." Introduction to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. U.S. State Department, 1999.

[RB] Chapter 8.


Buy at Amazon Bell, Daniel, and Jean-Marc Coicaud .Chapters 9, 10, and 12 in Ethics in Action: The Ethical Challenges of International Human Rights Nongovernmental Organizations. Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 169-203, and 218-256. ISBN: 9780521684491.

14 Criticisms of and challenges to rights and conclusion and wrapping up

[RB] Chapter 7.

Rajagopal. "The International Human Rights Movement Today." Maryland Journal of International Law (2009).

Kennedy, David. "The International Human Rights Movement: Part of the Problem?" Harvard Human Rights Journal 15 (Spring 2002): 101-126. (This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader.PDF - 1.5MB)


Koskenniemi, Martti. "The Effect of Rights on Political Culture." In Philip Alston, The European Union and Human Rights. Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 99-116.

Buy at Amazon Kennedy, David. "Reassessing International Humanitarianism: The Dark Sides," In International Law and its Others. Edited by Anne Orford. Cambridge University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780521124461.