LAWSG030 International Human Rights Law

Credit value: 30 credits (15 ECTS, 300 learning hours)
Convenor: Kimberley Trapp
Other Teachers: Luis Viveros;
Edmund Robinson
Teaching Delivery: 20 x 2-hour weekly lectures, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two
Who may enrol: Any UCL Master’s student
Prerequisites: None
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in International Law;
LLM in Human Rights Law
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Students may submit an answer to a past exam question to obtain feedback
Final Assessment: One 3-hour unseen written examination (100%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

This module provides a general survey of the sources and theory of human rights law and the procedural and institutional infrastructure of human rights protection; as well as a focused examination of human rights in a particular context. Part I, or the ‘general’ part, covers the historical evolution of human rights law, its sources, the various systems for the protection of human rights (universal and regional), and explores the theory of human rights law as a body of international law. The ‘focused’ part, Part II (in Term 2), explores the relationship between human rights and national security. It discusses very topical issues like the extraterritorial application of human rights obligations, the conflict (if any) between human rights obligations and the obligation to implement Security Council ‘counter-terrorist’ sanctions, the relationship between international human rights law and international humanitarian law (the law that applies to armed conflicts), and substantive rights like the right to life, the right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture.

Module syllabus:

Part I – HR in Theory and Practice

  • The Traditional Protection of the Individual under International Law
  • Sources of International Human Rights Law
  • The UN System of Human Rights Protection: Charter and Treaty based
  • Regional Systems of HR Protection I: The African, ASEAN and Arab Systems
  • Regional Systems of HR Protection II: The American and European Systems
  • Theory of International Human Rights law

Part II – Human Rights and National Security

  • The Scope of HR Protection: Extra-territoriality
  • Conflict with other norms of international law (International Humanitarian Law)
  • Conflict with other norms of international law II (Article 103 UN Charter and Security Council counter-terrorism resolutions)
  • The Right to Life
  • Prohibition of Torture and (other) Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment
  • Non-refoulement / Protection against Wrongful Transfers
  • Right to Liberty, Security and Fair Trial
Recommended materials:

  • HLA Hart, The Concept of Law 3rd. ed. (OUP)
  • RM Dworkin, Law’s Empire (Hart)
  • M Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights 2nd ed.(OUP)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading:

Students who have not taken any general module in Public International Law before are strongly advised to read a general textbook in advance of commencing the course. A concise and elegant textbook is Vaughan Lowe, International Law (Oxford UP 2007).

Other students may wish to a look at relevant entries in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Oxford UP, available online [subscription or institutional access required] at