POLS444-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024

International Human Rights

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


This course examines the growth of the human rights movement over the past 70 years and problems associated with creating a universal set of human rights norms. Contemporary challenges will be examined with a particular emphasis on the Global South.

In 1945 in San Francisco, the members of the United Nations were vowing, in joining the new organisation: ‘to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small […]’ (UN Charter Preamble, 1945). More than seven decades later, human rights continue to be asserted as an international normative imperative. However, they are also ignored, abused and challenged. In the United States, President Trump is a blatant supporter of torture: ‘It works; it absolutely works!’ meanwhile in the Philippines, President Duterte’s war on drugs has led to thousands of extra-judicial killing in less than a year. But beyond such direct contemporary challenges to human rights, other forms of contestations have long been brewing, notably linked to the expected ‘universality’ of human rights. This graduate course provides a foundation for the analysis of international human rights issues – its discourse, philosophy, instruments and institutions – from the perspective of the field of International Relations.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain knowledge on the history of international human rights and their multidisciplinary underpinnings (Attributes: 1, 3, 5);
  • Critically reflect on the strengths and failings of the main theories informing the field of international human rights (Attributes: 1, 3, 5);
  • Building on diverse case studies from different regions of the world, demonstrate an ability to analyse how the range of political, economic and altruistic motives that animate actors across the field impact the outcomes of human rights on the ground (Attributes: all);
  • Bring student to critically reflect on their own viewpoints on human rights (Attributes: all).
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department.


POLS405, DIPL405, ILAP662, POLS420 and DIPL418 prior to 2014

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 11:00 - 14:00 Ernest Rutherford 140
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Course Coordinator

Pascale Hatcher

Textbooks / Resources

All the material required for class is available on Learn: a folder with a wide range of information should you require support during the semester; a folder that lists further resources on development which may come very useful to feed in our class discussions; and a folder where you can find all the information needed on the semester’s assessments.

The readings and PPT slides are uploaded in the weekly folders, marked week 1 to week 12. Note that the weekly folders are “alive” in the sense that while the weekly mandatory and suggested readings will not change, more material marked “as discussed in class” will regularly be added in order to follow-up topics that will have emerged from our class discussions. As such, students are encouraged to often visit the weekly folders.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $2,046.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Language, Social and Political Sciences .

All POLS444 Occurrences

  • POLS444-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024