International Relations and Human Rights


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 human rights policies 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.

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024




POLITICS 750: 15 points