Course International Human Rights - Law 659
Instructor James Anaya
Units 3 (Graded)


Recommended Courses:

Public International Law


This course provides students with an overview of the theory and practice of international human rights law. It will focus on various human rights problems of contemporary significance and the role of international law and institutions in addressing those problems.  Issues to be examined relate to civil and political rights, economic and social rights, the environment and development, gender and equality, indigenous peoples, minorities, individual criminal responsibility, the responsibilities of business enterprises, and human rights in times of conflict.  The course examines the evolution and content of human rights norms, their sources and legal status, and domestic and international mechanisms for implementing the norms.  Students will become familiar with the United Nations human rights system, as well as with regional regimes.  The course will cover the major human rights treaties and other written instruments, the international institutions and procedures that are linked to them, and the incorporation of international human rights norms into domestic law and policy. Themes throughout the course will include the tensions between universalism and cultural diversity, the influence of evolving philosophical and political trends, shifting notions of statehood and sovereignty, and the relationship between the domestic and international legal orders.


Hannum, Anaya, and Shelton, International Human Rights: Problems of Law, Policy, and Practice (Aspen Publishers, 5th ed. 2011); its Documentary Supplement; and miscellaneous materials posted on the course D2L site.

Course Format

Lecture, class discussion, and problem simulation.

Written Assignments

Students are required to write short papers (500 words max.) for at least 12 of the 14 class sessions.  These papers will be based on hypothetical problems or questions posed in connection with each of the reading assignments.  No research beyond the reading assignments is expected or will be rewarded for these short papers.  Students can redo up to 4 papers, which can be turned in any time before the end of the examination period for the semester.  

Type of Exam


Basis for grading

Short papers and class participation.

Additional Comments

This is a required course for Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy LL.M., S.J.D, and certificate students.

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