JJUA55141U  International Human Rights Law

Volume 2017/2018

The course focuses on the international systems for the protection of human rights. Its purpose is to make students familiar with the institutional mechanisms and substantive provisions in force at the global and regional levels to protect human rights. The class will address the key challenges in current human rights law by assessing them critically using various theoretical perspectives advanced in academic debates. Throughout the semester, the class will examine the human rights system existing within the framework of the United Nations, introduce the European, American and African regional human rights regimes, and consider possibilities of developing new global human rights tools. Substantive examples of human rights challenges arising in particular domains, such as terrorism, transnational corporations, religion, data privacy, will be considered to explore the operation of human rights in practice.

The course is divided in three parts.

1) The first introductory part covers the overview of the institutional framework of international human rights law.

2) The second part represents the core of the course and is organized around several substantial areas, where human rights challenges arise. The sessions include topics, such as Corporations & Human Rights, Migration Crisis & Human Rights, Terrorism & Human Rights, Religion & Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, Women’s Reproductive Rights & Human Rights, Democracy, Rule of Law & Human Rights, Data Protection & Human Rights.

3) The third part of the course highlights the cross-cutting doctrines and interpretation techniques deployed by judges and lawyers in the practice of human rights law. Within the context of the compliance concern and the backlash facing international human rights regimes, the principle of the margin of appreciation (ECtHR) will be juxtaposed with the principle of subsidiarity (EU and now also ECtHR), the conventionality control (IACtHR) and the pilot judgment procedure (ECtHR). Further, different theoretical frameworks developed in the literature will be presented in view of discussing the systemic features and challenges of the international human rights law regime identified throughout the course in light of the existing theoretical perspectives.

This course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World, see 'Remarks' below.

Learning Outcome

The course will pursue the following learning objectives:


  • present to the students with a comprehensive overview of the body of international human rights law;
  • explain the institutional framework of different international and regional human rights protection systems, particularly in Europe;
  • explain the most important doctrines and interpretation techniques of human rights bodies through the study of case law;
  • familiarize students with the issues and arguments advanced in the academic debate on international human rights.


  • identify and discuss challenges to and shortcomings of contemporary international human rights law;
  • teach the students to respond to arguments and position themselves within the existing human rights law literature;
  • explain and critically discuss issues of particular, contemporary relevance in the field of international human rights law, such as the rights of individuals suspected of being involved in terrorism;
  • sensitivize the students to the relevance of human rights arguments for judicial proceedings in various domains of international and domestic law through discussions of a broad spectrum of topics intersecting with international human rights law;
  • develop critical thinking with regard to the systemic challenges and the cross-cutting methods of argumentation deployed in the human rights regime;
  • critically reflect on an academic field and the structure of the arguments in the academic debate on a particular topic.


  • enable the student to carry out independent legal research;
  • critically analyze a complex problem in international human rights law applying legal analysis and with regard to the economic, political and social dimension of the issue;
  • autonomously identify the relevant research question, propose a research design and the working plan;
  • construct international human rights law arguments in legal disputes in the national and international public law context.

Reading materials will be provided to the students via the online platform.

Oral communication, written communication, critical thinking, research abilities, analytical thinking, problem solving, presentation skills, capacity to read ans understand academic texts in English, familiarity with the plagiarism guidelines at KU
This course is based on interactive lectures, where the teacher presents a topic and introduces students to the development of a particular area of law and to the substance of the law. Students are required to read and study materials in preparation of the class. For each class, the assigned readings consist of, on the one hand, judgments and decisions issued by various human rights tribunals and institutions, which are aimed at familiarizing the students with judicial reasoning and argumentation in the human rights domain and, on the other hand, of academic articles addressing the relevant tensions within human rights law in a more abstract and theory-driven manner. The academic readings (including recent publications, working papers and blog posts) will be used as support to develop arguments that lead to a discussion in class.
Please observe, this course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World. Students who sign up for the iEP become iCourts Student Fellows and will get a unique opportunity to become part of the research environment of iCourts – the only centre of excellence in law in Denmark. The iEP is open to all Danish and foreign MA students at the Faculty. All iCourts courses may be taken individually but only students who complete at least three of the 15 ECTS courses offered by the centre will receive a certificate confirming their participation in the iEP. Read more about the programme: http:/​​/​​jura.ku.dk/​​icourts/​​teaching-and-doctoral-training/​​master-excellence-programme/​​
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Written examination
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Autumn: January 12, 2018

Spring: June 13, 2018


Autumn: February 22, 2018

Spring: August 8, 2018

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Total
  • 412,5