International Law, Culture and Identity

Subject LAWS70310 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

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:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Successfully implementing international law requires understanding its operation in local settings, which often involve complex cultural dynamics. Human rights enforcement, transitional justice strategies and humanitarian law interventions are all deeply embedded in politics of cultural formation and identity. This subject explores the pressing need to take a bottom-up approach to international law and contextualise it within local, regional and global cultural processes as well as situate it with respect to non-state actors such as non-government organisations (NGOs) and grassroots social movements. Issues will be explored through case studies, including the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, current cases before the International Criminal Court, the World Social Forum and Global Justice Movement and the unfolding impact of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in reference to Latin America. The lecturer is a leading scholar in human rights, global governance and the cultural politics of legal pluralism.

Principal topics will include:

  • Historical genealogies of ‘culture’ and ‘human rights‘
  • The possibilities and limits of global governance
  • Transitional justice paradigms
  • Indigenous peoples and human rights
  • Global justice movement
  • Globalisation and identity politics.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand how discourses of human rights, transitional justice and humanitarian law operate as cultural processes
  • Understand the historical links between cultural constructions of others and practices of law and politics in international and domestic jurisdictions
  • Be familiar with various methodologies and theoretical perspectives that seek to examine the production of cultural identity in the context of legal engagement
  • Appreciate the increasing role of non-state actors in the development and implementation of international legal norms

Class presentations (20%)

Take-home examination (80%)

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:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in International Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Law and Development
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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