Human Rights and Foreign Policy





This course offers students a critical evaluation of the role of human rights, as law, ethics, and politics, in the foreign policy of contemporary states. It is designed to help future diplomats, foreign service officers, human rights activists, and future politicians understand how international conventions, human rights NGO's, UN and regional human rights bodies, and media-driven human rights narratives shape the conduct of large and small states. The course will focus on what is controversial and contested about the role of human rights in modern foreign policy. Some states use human rights as a guiding principle, others treat it as a side-constraint on the pursuit of national interest, while still others contest the right of other states to interfere in their internal affairs. Using concrete case studies, we will examine the competing, contradictory, and contested impacts of human rights law and discourse on the conduct of 21st century states. The course is designed for human rights skeptics and believers alike, and no previous experience or knowledge of human rights law is required.

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