International Human Rights Law

Subject LAWS70264 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

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

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
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: None
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 and critique 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 to 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.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

The field of international human rights law is today composed of a multitude of legal instruments, implementation bodies, special procedures, human rights NGOs and transitional justice mechanisms. This subject provides the opportunity to examine this field in many of its dimensions, equipping students to navigate the system and critically assess its fundamental features. It will be of interest to all students who want to develop a detailed understanding of how the international human rights law system operates, including those with limited or no background in the area. The two lecturers have significant experience across a diverse range of topics and issues within international human rights law, which they draw upon to create an engaging and thought-provoking subject.

Principal topics will include:

  • Human rights and the challenges posed by State sovereignty and national security
  • The contested universality of human rights
  • The international institutional framework for the protection of human rights, with a special focus on the Human Rights Council and treaty monitoring system
  • The interpretation and application of selected rights from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • Domestic measures for the implementation of human rights, such as judicial implementation of economic, social and cultural rights
  • The norm of non-discrimination as it relates to race, gender and sexual orientation
  • Non-government organisations (NGOs) and their role in the protection of human rights
  • The contribution of truth and reconciliation commissions to the protection of human rights
  • Human rights law relating to refugees and asylum-seekers and the challenges posed by economic globalisation and climate change.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Have a sound understanding of the history and philosophy of international human rights
  • Be able to understand and assess claims as to the contested universality of international human rights
  • Have a detailed knowledge of the international legal and institutional frameworks for the protection of human rights
  • Be able to assess the effectiveness of different mechanisms for implementing or enforcing human rights, such as judicial implementation, international criminal courts, and truth and reconciliation commissions
  • Understand the central role played by nongovernment organisations (NGOs) in the international system
  • Develop the capacity to examine current issues by reference to international human rights standards
  • Be able to understand the challenges posed to the implementation of international human rights in the context of globalisation.
  • Take-home examination (100%) (2 – 5 May)
  • 10,000 word research paper (100%) (4 June) 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. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

Download PDF version.