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COURSE NUMBER: POLI 319
COURSE TITLE: Human Rights
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Michael DeMoor
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course seeks to explore the origins, nature and limitations of the human rights paradigm in politics and law. We will consider the historical development of the human rights paradigm, philosophical (and theological) discussions about its meaning and validity, and engage in concrete examination of the ways in which it shapes legal and political practice particularly in Canada and internationally.

Prerequisites: POLI 205
REQUIRED TEXTS:
  • Lynn Hunt: Inventing Human Rights: A History. New York: Norton, 2007
  • Michael J. Perry: Toward a Theory of Human Rights: Religion, Law and the Courts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • A reader.
  • Available on the Internet:
    • Charles Taylor: “Conditions of an Unforced Consensus on Human Rights” http://usm.maine.edu/~bcj/issues/three/taylor.html
    • Lief Wenar: “Rights” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/
    • Heinz vs. Christian Horizons: http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onhrt/doc/2008/2008hrto22/2008hrto22.html
    • Iain T. Benson: Christian Horizons, Secularist Sunsets and the Nature of the "Public" http://culturalrenewal.29.ncol.ca/qry/page.taf?id=37&_function=detail&sbtblct_uid1=199
    • Susan Waltz, “Prosecuting Dictators: International Law and the Pinochet Case” http://www.jstor.org/stable/40209737
    • Henry Kissinger, “The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction” http://www.jstor.org/stable/20050228
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Course participation10%
Presentation10%
Paper 130%
Paper 230%
Final Exam 20%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES:
  • Developing a historical understanding of the origin and assumptions of human rights theories and institutions.
  • Understanding the promise, problems and limits of the practical deployment of the idea of human rights in Canadian and International law and politics
  • Beginning to formulate a critical Christian perspective on the theory and practice of human rights.
COURSE OUTLINE:
  • Week 1 (Jan 4, 6): Syllabus, Shortest field trip ever.
  • Week 2 (Jan 9, 11, 13): History of Human Rights: Hunt
  • Week 3 (Jan 16, 18, 20):  (Wed, 18th – IDS)  History: Tierney and Witte
  • Week 4 (Jan 23, 25, 27):   Justifying Human Rights: Perry chs 1 and 2
  • Week 5: (Jan 30, Feb 1, 3): Human Rights: A non-religious ground? Perry ch. 3
  • Week 6: (Feb 6, 8, 10):  Marshall & Boyle, Taylor
  • Week 7 (Feb 13, 15, 17): Rights, Morality, Law: Perry ch. 4 and (one of 5, 6, 7)
  • Week 8 (Feb 20, 22, 24):  READING WEEK
  • Week 9 (Feb 27, March 1, 3): Rights, democracy and the courts: Perry 8, 9
  • Week 10 (Mar 6, 8, 10): Canada: Charter, (Keegstra, Oakes, Big M)
  • Week 11 (Mar 13, 15, 17): Canada: Human Rights Commissions (Heinz, Levant, etc)
  • Week 12 (Mar 20, 22, 24): Drafting a Human Rights Convention
  • Week 13 (Mar 27, 29, 31): International Human Rights Law (Case)
  • Week 14 (April 3, 5, 7): Pinochet, Immunity, Universal Jurisdiction
  • Week 15 (April 10, 12): Presentations


Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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