Faculty of Arts


International Relations and Human Rights

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for POLITICS 750.


This course explores the policies of states towards each other and towards international organisations, non-state entities and individuals in fulfilment of their obligations under domestic and international law to protect human rights. Instruments of statecraft ranging from diplomacy, monitoring and mediation to peacekeeping and military intervention are described and assessed in light of case studies.

Broadly, this course juxtaposes the traditional claims of states to impose order against more recent claims by individuals to freedom, rights, justice and humane treatment. It places these conflicting claims in the modern international context, characterised by international organisations, law, politics and public opinion mobilised by NGOs.

A recurrent theme is the primary responsibility individual states bear for the implementation of international human rights ideals and agreements. A related theme is the impact of states’ domestic politics and foreign policy decision-making institutions as they affect, and are affected by, states’ international human rights obligations, goals and policies. Country case studies may include the US, NZ, or others chosen by students in which the politics of the formation of HR policy by particular governments may feature.

While common lectures and readings are presented, students will have a wide choice of essay and oral report topics to make best use of their interests, skills and experiences. Students will be encouraged to master not only traditional academic research and writing techniques but also internet search and downloading capabilities and use of electronic information sources and presentation techniques to support their essays and oral reports.

This is the core course of the interdisciplinary degree of Master of Professional Studies in International Relations and Human Rights (MPSTD-IRHR), of which Stephen Hoadley is the Coordinator. This course may also be taken in pursuit of the BA (Hons) or other graduate degrees.

Purposes and objectives

This course has the following aims:

• To provide a common core of ideas, information and academic credit for the degree of Master of Professional Studies in International Relations and Human Rights (MPSTD IRHR)
• To stimulate interest and background in topics that can be researched for POLITICS 755, POLITICS 780 and other research essays, dissertations and theses
• To prepare students for other courses in international relations and human rights and for eventual career work in governments, international organisations, NGOs, media and other professions
• To sharpen skills and deepen experience in efficient research, discriminating analysis, critical thinking, accurate writing, effective oral presentation and human rights advocacy
• In particular, to orient students to and inform them regarding the origins, structures, processes and political issues surrounding key international human rights institutions, including international human rights law, the International Bill of Rights, the United Nations Charter, the UN human rights bodies, the ad hoc international criminal tribunals, the International Criminal Court and related institutions and events, and how these can be deployed in the enhancement of international human rights

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Associate Professor Stephen Hoadley


New Zealand Handbook on International Human Rights (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2008).


POLITICS 750: 15.0 points

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