International Law & Rights of Minorities

Subject LAWS70317 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

August, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 - 26 contact hours per subject.
Total Time Commitment: Not available




Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Email or phone +61 3 8344 6190.

Alternatively, visit our website:

Subject Overview:

Ethnic conflict which causes massive human rights violations and which could result in the break-up of states has been an enduring problem for the international system. This subject examines the principles and techniques developed by international law to deal with such issues, through the study of major doctrines relating to sovereignty, self-determination and minority rights. It will also examine ethnic conflict in a multi-disciplinary perspective. The lecturer has extensive academic and practical experience in the field, with a doctorate from Harvard, and has completed an internship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington.

Principal topics will include:

  • The evolution of minority protection mechanisms from the time of the League of Nations to the current United Nations regime
  • The relationship between international human rights law in general and minority rights
  • Related areas of international law such as the law of self-determination, debates about the right to secession, genocide and humanitarian intervention, ‘failed states’ and the ways in which international law and institutions are engaged with the problem of ethnic conflict
  • The study of literature from various disciplines, including anthropology and political science; in our efforts to understand the character and causes of ethnic conflict.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand the history of the tensions between sovereignty and minority rights
  • Understand the relationship between minority rights and human rights in general
  • Understand current debates and approaches relating to minority rights and the resolution of ethnic conflict
  • Be able to critically analyse contemporary ethnic conflicts and the claims made by involved parties
  • Understand the relationship between minority rights and various other major doctrines of international law, such as self-determination
  • Understand the relationship between legal and political developments in the emergence and resolution of ethnic conflict, and the limitations of the law.

10,000 word research paper (100%) (15 November) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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