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Course’s Title:

International Human Rights Law


Prof. Ludovic Hennebel

Prof. Hélène Tigroudja


Students need to be comfortable with English legal and political papers published in high-profile academic journals. Prior knowledge of international law is an asset.


Prof. Hennebel will deliver lectures 4 to 11

Prof. Tigroudja will deliver lectures 1 to 3




written exam:  multiple choice exam / true/false items / short answers


This "International Protection of Human Rights" course focuses on major issues related to the theory and practice of international human rights law. The course explores the whole picture of current international law aimed at the direct protection of mankind. The course aims to critically reflect upon the evolution of international human rights law. It offers an introduction to the human rights law's mechanisms, at the universal and regional levels, as well as critical analysis of issues and human rights problems such as: the prohibition of discrimination; the protection of the right to life; the practice of enforced disappearances; the protection of human rights in detention; the prohibition of torture and ill-treatments; the protection of the right to belief and to practice a religion; the free speech; the personal autonomy and the dignity of human beings; the protection of indigenous peoples; and business and human rights.

Sessions (to be confirmed and subject to changes)

Session 1: Introduction & The international human rights law’s mechanisms: unity and fragmentation

Historical perspective of the development of international human rights law at universal/regional levels especially from 1945 (UN Charter) and 1948 (American Declaration on Human Rights and Duties and Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and analysis of the legal coexistence of the variety of human rights treaties and mechanisms of implementation.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

What are the universal human rights ?

Session 2: The legal regime of international human rights law: restriction, derogation, renunciation

Human rights are qualified as universal and equal but some of them may be restricted under certain circumstances (legality/legitimate aim and necessity), while others as prohibition of torture or prohibition of slavery are affirmed as absolute. Under no circumstances (war, fight against terrorism or any other emergency situation) a State has the right to derogate from absolute rights.

Based on the case-law of international human rights organs, the purpose of the session is to explore the legal regime of the restriction of rights as freedom of speech or freedom to practice his/her religion; the conditions to derogate from rights when a State faces with a situation of emergency and the conditions to renounce/be deprived of his/her rights.

Reading: Article 15 of the European Convention of Human Rights/ Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 27 of the American Convention on Human Rights [Documents available (in English) on the official website of the European Court: / Inter-American Court: and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:].

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights in the Age of Terrorism

Session 3: The protection of the principle of non-discrimination

Prohibition of discrimination and principle of equality are core-values of international human rights law. For the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the prohibition is a jus cogens norm. With some jurisprudential examples taken from European/African/Inter-American and universal organs, the session explores the different forms and factors of discriminations - with a focus on stereotypes -. The objective is also to figure out how international law deals with various prohibited grounds of discrimination - with focus on gender discrimination/discrimination based on disability and growing approach of intersectional discrimination -.

Reading: European Court of Human Rights. Centre for Legal Resources on Behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania. Grand Chamber Judgment of July 17, 2014. Application No 47848/08 [Judgment available on the website of the European Court of Human Rights.].

CEDAW Quick & Concise: Explaining the Principle of Non Discrimination

Gandhi (Racial Discrimination)

What is discrimination ?

Session 4: The personal autonomy and the protection of dignity



Where Is It Illegal To Be Gay?

LGBT and International Human Rights

LGBT Rights: A Human Rights Lawyer's perspective

Abortion rights are basic human rights for women

Is there a human right to voluntary euthanasia?

Session 5: The right to life: death penalty - summary executions - targeted killings



Abolish the death penalty

Death by Drone

Rappler Talk: Human Rights Watch on extrajudicial killings

Human rights advocates to seek help from UN over extrajudicial killings

Session 6: The practice of enforced disappearances

Stand up for victims of enforced disappearance - Nassera Dutour

Stand up for victims of enforced disappearance - Tita Radilla Martinez

Session 7: The protection of human rights in detention

Conditions in some European prisons 'alarming' - human rights group

What Rights Do Prisoners Have ? Part 1

What Rights Do Prisoners Have ? Part 2

Session 8: The prohibition of torture and ill-treatments

Amnesty International: Torture and Human Rights

Human Rights Investigator: Torture Investigation On Prisoner Deaths

CPT Preventing torture in Europe


Modern Torture Techniques

Session 9: The protection of the right to belief and to practice a religion and the free speech

European Court upholds Belgium's full veil ban

UN Says France's Niqab Ban Violates Human Rights of Muslim Women

Freedom of Expression explained

Session 10: The protection of indigenous people’s rights

What is Self Determination?

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: a conversation with experts

Protecting the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples

Session 11: Business and human rights

Amnesty: Shell involved in Nigeria abuses in 1990s

Forced labour Myanmar - Doe Vs Unocal

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights An Introduction

Equality and Human Rights Commission


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