11.164 | Fall 2015 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Human Rights: At Home and Abroad


Required Texts

[JD] = Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory & Practice. 3rd ed. Cornell University Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780801477706. [Preview with Google Books]

[DH] = Hurwitz, Deena, Margaret Satherthwaite, and Douglas Ford. Human Rights Advocacy Stories. Foundation Press, 2008. ISBN: 9781599411996.

[BR] = Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. International Law from Below. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780521016711. [Preview with Google Books]

Background in International Law–

Janis, Mark. International Law. 6th ed. Aspen Publishers, 2012. ISBN: 9781454813682.


Course introduction

Introduction to human rights as a ‘system’ or ‘regime’ and the US

BBC, The Why factor, “Why do we have human rights?”

No readings assigned
2 What are human rights? History, philosophy and character of the rights discourse

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

[JD] Chapters 1, 2, and 4.

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.

Pogge, Thomas. “How Should Human Rights be Conceived?” In The Philosophy of Human Rights. Edited by Patrick Hayden. Paragon House, 2001, pp. 187–210. ISBN: 9781557787903.

Nussbaum, Martha. “Capabilities and Human Rights.” (PDF - 2.0MB) Fordham Law Review 66, no. 2 (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 6 and 7.

[BR] Chapter 7.

[DH] Bennoune, Karima. “The Law of the Republic Versus the “Law of the Brothers”: A Story of France’s Law Banning Religious Symbols in Public Schools.”

Waldron, Jeremy. “How to Argue for a Universal Claim.” Columbia Human Rights Law Review 30, no. 305 (1998–1999): 305–14.

Taylor, Charles. “A World Consensus on Human Rights?Dissent, 1996.

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] Chapter 5.

[BR] Chapters 3–6.

Mutua, Makau. “Savages, Victims and Saviors: The Metaphor of Human Rights.” Harvard International Law Journal 42, no. 1 (2001): 201–45.

Moyn, Samuel. Chapter 3 in The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History. Belknap Press, 2012. ISBN: 9780674064348.

5 Human rights at home: The struggle to enforce human rights in the US

Dudziak, Mary L. “Desegregation as a Cold War Imperative.” Stanford Law Review 41, no. 1 (1988): 61–120.

Cynthia Soohoo, Catherine Albisa, and Martha F. Davis, eds. Chapters 1, 5, and 7 in Bringing Human Rights Home: A History of Human Rights in the United States. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780812220797.

Davis, Martha. “Occupy Wall Street and International Human Rights.” (PDF) Fordham Urban Law Journal 39, no. 4 (2012): 931–58.

Anderson, Carol. Chapter 5 in Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944–1955. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780521531580.

“National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21*” (PDF) United Nations General Assembly, 2015.

“UPR Submission, United States.” (PDF) Response by Human Rights Watch, 2014.

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblidness. The New Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781595586438.

Ignatieff, Michael, ed. American Exceptionalism and Human Rights. Princeton University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780691116488.

6 Security v. human rights: Torture, assassinations and the War on Terror

Rejali, Darius. Chapters 21, 22 and 23 in Torture and Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780691114224.

Luban, David. Chapters 1 and 2 in Torture, Power, and Law. Cambridge University Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781107656291.

[DH] Huckerby, Jayne, and Sir Nigel Rodley. “Outlawing Torture: The Story of Amnesty International’s Efforts to Shape the UN Convention Against Torture.”

[DH] Satterthwaite, Margaret. “The Story of El Masri v. Tenet: Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the “War on Terror”.”

Report of the “Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (CIA Torture Report).” (PDF - 1.6MB) 2014, pp. 1–19 (Findings and Conclusions).

Alston, Philip. “The CIA and Targetted Killings beyond borders.” (PDF) New York University School of Law Public Law and Legal Theory Research Working Paper 11–64 (2011).

The Legal Prohibition Against Torture.” Human Rights Watch, 2003.

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

Bowden, Mark. “The Dark Art of Interrogation.” Atlantic Monthly, October 2003.

Browse through the Various “Bush Administration Documents on Interrogation,” The Washington Post, June 23, 2004.

7 Economic development, globalization and poverty

[BR] Chapter 2.

[JD] Chapter 13.

Rajagopal, Balakrishnan. “Right to Development and Global Governance: Old and New Challenges Twenty-Five Years On.” Human Rights Quarterly 35, no. 4 (2013): 893–909.

[DH] Narula, Smita. “The Story of Narmada Bachao Andolan: Human Rights in the Global Economy and the Struggle against the World Bank.”

Pogge, Thomas. “Recognised and Violated by International Law: The Human Rights of the Global Poor.” Leiden Journal of International Law 18, no. 4 (2005): 717–45.

Marks, Susan. “Human Rights and the Bottom Billion.” European Human Rights Law Review 1 (2009): 37–49.

Vizard, Polly, Sakiko Fukuda‐Parr, et al. “Introduction: The Capability Approach and Human Rights.” Journal of Human Development and Capabilities: A Multi-Disciplinary Journal for People-Centered Development 12, no. 1 (2011): 1–22.

Marks, Susan. “Human Rights and Root Causes.” The Modern Law Review 74, no. 1 (2011): 57–78.

Righting Wrongs." The Economist, August 2001, 18–20.

Pogge, Thomas. “World Poverty and Human Rights.” Ethics & International Affairs 19, no. 1 (2005): 1–7.

———. “The First Millenium Development Goal.” Paper Delivered at Carnegie Council, 2003.

Reddy, Sanjay. “Counting the Poor: The Truth about World Poverty Statistics.” (PDF) Socialist Register (2006): 168–79.

Bhagwati, Jagdish, and T. N. Srinivasan. “Trade and Poverty in the Poor Countries.” (PDF)

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

Rahnema, Majid. “Poverty.” In The Development Dictionary. Edited by Wolfgang Sachs. St. Martin’s Press, 1992, pp. 158–76. ISBN: 9781856490436.

Sen, Amartya. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 in Development as Freedom. Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 13–53 and 87–110. ISBN: 9780198297581.

8 Gender, equality, and sexual minorities

[JD] Chapter 16.

Brown, Wendy. “Suffering the Paradoxes of Rights.” In Left Legalism/Left Critique. Edited by Wendy Brown and Janey Halley. Duke University Press, 2002, pp. 420–34. ISBN: 9780822329688.

Halley, Janet, et al. “From The International To The Local In Feminist Legal Responses To Rape, Prostitution/Sex Work, And Sex Trafficking: Four Studies In Contemporary Governance Feminism.” (PDF) Harvard Journal of Law and Gender 29 (2006): 36.

[DH] Bromley, Mark, and Kristen Walker. “The Stories of Dudgeon and Toonen: Personal Struggles to Legalize Sexual Identities.”

Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S.________(2015)

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): 343–81.

Human Rights Watch. “Taking Cover: Women in Post-Taliban Afghanistan.” May 2002. (Briefing paper)

9 Ethnic, religious and racial violence and group rights

[JD] Chapter 3.

[DH] Anaya, S. James, and Maia S. Campbell. “Gaining Legal Recognition of Indigenous Land Rights: The Story of the Awas Tingni Case in Nicaragua.”

Kymlicka, Will. “The Good, the Bad, and the Intolerable: Minority Group Rights.” Dissent, 1996.

Engle, Karen. “On Fragile Architecture: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Context of Human Rights.” European Journal of International Law 22, no. 1 (2011): 141–63.

Kymlicka, Will. Chapter 2 in Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity. Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780199280407.

Skim through Human Rights Watch. ““We have no Orders to Save You”: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat.” 2002.

Skim through Human Rights Watch. “Broken People: Caste Violence Against India’s Untouchables.” 1999.

Mutua, Makau. “Limitations on Religious Rights: Problematizing Religious Freedom in the African Context.” Buff Human Rights Law Review 5, no. 75 (1999).

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

10 Forcible Intervention versus sovereignty

[JD] Chapter 15.

Todorov, Tzvetan, and Michael Ignatieff. “Right to Intervene or Duty to Assist?” and “Human Rights, Sovereignty and Intervention.” In Human Rights, Human Wrongs. Edited by Nicholas Owen. Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 28–87. ISBN: 9780192802194. [Preview with Google Books]

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: 9780521821988. [Preview with Google Books]

Cushman, Thomas. “The Liberal Case for the War in Iraq.” In Human Rights in the ‘War on Terror’. Edited by Richard A. Wilson. Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 78–107. ISBN: 9780521618335.

Rieff, David. Part II, “The Lives they Lives.” to “The Way we Live Now.” In At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention. Simon & Schuster, 2013. ISBN: 9780743287074.

Rieff, David. “R2P, R.I.P.,” The New York Times, November 7, 2011. (Op-Ed Page)

"The Responsibility to Protect, Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty." (PDF - 3.8MB) 2001.

Berman, Nathaniel. “Intervention in a ‘Divided World’: Axes of Legitimacy.” European Journal of International Law 17, no. 4 (2006): 743–69.

“Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.” (PDF - 1.8MB) (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, no. 2 (2002): 159–75.


Open class for discussion and / or a topic to be chosen by students

Conclusion and wrapping up

No readings assigned