Political Science 3506

Section A1, Winter 2004
8:30-9:50 AM, Tues,Thurs.
HCH 200

Human Rights and International Relations

Professor: Shaun Narine
Office: HCH 215
Office Hours: TTH 10:00-12:00 PM
Email: narine@stu.ca
Office Phone: 460-0377

During the 20th century, human rights achieved a place of prominence on the international relations stage. In 1948, the United Nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Since that time, torture, genocide and apartheid have been declared illegal and most states have made, at least, a rhetorical commitment to upholding basic standards of human rights. In reality, however, states are the international actors most often responsible for violating human rights. There may not be a single country in the world that is not guilty of significant abuses of human rights.

Despite the overall failure of the world community to live up to its commitments in the area of human rights, human rights issues are of growing importance on the international stage. Today, international institutions are far more likely to address human rights concerns than in the past; institutional structures specifically devoted to interpreting and upholding human rights are common. International non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have become highly respected and influential actors on the world stage. Communications technology has made it far easier for outsiders to monitor human rights abuses within states and for people around the world to become informed on what is happening in other countries.

Nonetheless, the advance of the human rights agenda in international relations does pose difficult questions for the traditional operation of the international system. Significant philosophical and political questions about the nature of human rights need to be addressed. Questions about the relationship between human rights and the traditional sovereign state are especially important. Concerns about cultural relativism and neo-imperialism loom large: are modern efforts to promote human rights issues just a new form of cultural imperialism being imposed by Western states - which largely define what "human rights" are - upon weaker, non-Western countries? Are there such things as "universal human rights"? Can different forms of human rights come into conflict? If so, how should we resolve those conflicts? Can they be resolved?

The object of this course will be to address these major issues. Our final goal will be to arrive at a basic understanding of the problems facing the development of the human rights regime at the international level. Students should leave the class with an awareness of the practical, political and philosophical imperatives underpinning the debates around international human rights. It is important to emphasize that this course is about the politics of human rights.

This is a full-year class. The first part of the class will be spent exploring the questions from a theoretical and philosophical perspective. The second part of the course will be spent investigating particular historical and current cases of human rights abuse, and then employing some of the arguments and concepts that we have examined in the first semester. As part of the second semester, we will conduct analyses of such events as sessions of the World Court, the Security Council, and actual cases of human rights abuse.

This syllabus deals with the first semester of the class. A second syllabus will be provided to you later in the year.

Readings: the reading load for this course will be fairly heavy. It is very important to stay on top of your readings. The course will also take advantage of the full range of new technology available to us and will include numerous required readings that are available online from the UNB library. The course will not provide a reading packet. Students are expected to access and download the appropriate material themselves. Other required readings will be available on reserve at the Harriet Irving Library. It is very important that students do the readings and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Please note that the readings are subject to change. I reserve the right to add or subtract readings from the syllabus on the basis of such factors as time, relevance, or the discovery of a new reading that may be particularly pertinent to the issue at hand. Rest assured, however, that alterations in the syllabus will be the exception rather than the rule.

I am currently working on a Web CT home page for the course which you should be able to access shortly. The home page will enable you to keep track of your marks, and it will have links to useful websites, as well as the syllabus.

Texts: Seyom Brown, Human Rights in World Politics. New York: Longman, 2000.
David P. Forsythe, Human Rights in International Relations. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Marking scheme: For this class, there will not be any examinations. The marks for the class will be entirely dependent upon your written work and participation in class discussions and exercises. The mark breakdown is as follows:

25% - class participation. Based on participation in class discussions, presentations and other exercises.
20% - 10 short essays, 5 in each semester. Each essay will be worth 2%, based on a question given to the class, and should be no more than 2-3 pages in length.
25% - first term major essay. This will be in two components: an outline (5%) and the major paper (20%).
25%- second term major essay. This will also consist of an outline (5%) and the final paper (20%).
5% - final reflection essay. This will be a final essay (5-6 pages) where you will reflect on your class experience, what you have learned, and other comments/concerns you may have.

Early in the first semester, I will present the class with a list of possible human rights cases (both historical and ongoing) that students can use to select a topic that will be the focus of a major presentation in the second semester. This topic may also be the focus of the major papers written for the class. It may be necessary for two or more students to share the same topic. In such cases, students will need to coordinate with one another on the final presentation.


Week One: Human Rights In International Relations: Overview

Forsythe, Chapter One: Introduction: Human Rights in International Relations
Brown, Chapter One: Introduction
Required: Jerome J. Shestack, "The Philosophic Foundations of Human Rights," Human Rights Quarterly 20 (May 1998): 201-234.
Kurt Mills, Chapter One: Reconstructing Sovereignty in A New Sovereignty? Human Rights in the Emerging Global Order. London, Macmillan, pp. 9-53.
Jack Donnelly, "The Social Construction of International Human Rights," Human Rights in Global Politics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999: 71-102. (On reserve)

Week Two-Three: Human Rights Standards

Forsythe, Chapter Two: Establishing Human Rights Standards
Brown, Chapter Two: Human Rights in Contemporary World Politics: Claims and Counterclaims.
Required: Rhoda Howard, "The Full-Belly Thesis: Should Economic Rights Take Priority Over Civil and Political Rights?," HRQ 5 (November 1983): 467-490.
Rolf Kunneman, "A Coherent Approach to Human Rights," HRQ (May 1995): 323-342.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Weeks Four-Six: The Philosophical Debates Around Human Rights:

Brown, Chapter Three: Philosophical Issues and Insights
John J. Tilley, "Cultural Relativism," HRQ 22 (2000): 501-527.
Ken Booth, "Three Tyrannies," in Human Rights in Global Politics. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 31-70. (On reserve)
Chris Brown, "Universal Human Rights: A Critique," in Ibid .pp. 103-127. (On reserve)
Daniel A. Bell, "The East Asian Challenge to Human Rights: Reflections on an East West Dialogue," HRQ 18, no.3 (1996): 641-667.
Bonny Ibhawoh, "Between Culture and Constitution: Evaluating the Cultural Legitimacy of Human Rights in the African State," HRQ 22 (2000): 838-860.
Heiner Bielefeldt, "Muslim Voices in the Human Rights Debate," HRQ 17, no.4 (1995): 587-617.

Weeks Seven-Eight: Global and Regional Institutions of Human Rights:

Brown, Chapter Four: The International Law of Human Rights
Forsythe, Chapter Three: Global Application of Human Rights Norms
Forsythe, Chapter Five: Regional Application of Huma n Rights Norms

African Charter on Human and People's Rights
American Convention on Human Rights
Arab Charter on Human Rights
Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

Weeks Nine-Ten: The Influence of Non-State Actors on Human Rights:

Forsythe, Chapter Seven: Non-governmental Organizations and Human Rights
Forsythe, Chapter Eight: Transnational corporations and Human Rights
Martin Shaw, "Global Voices: Civil society and the Media in Global Crises," in Human Rights in Global Politics, pp.214-232. (On reserve).

Weeks Eleven-Twelve: Humanitarian Intervention:

The Responsibility to Protect, Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty.
Mohammed Ayoob, "Humanitarian Intervention and State Sovereignty," The International Journal of Human Rights, vol.6, no.1 (Spring 2002) 81-102.
Edward Newman, "Humanitarian Intervention, Legality and Legitimacy," The International Journal of Human Rights, vol.6, no.4 (Winter 2002): 101-120.
Ian Williams "Righting the Wrongs of Past Interventions: A Review of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty," The International Journal of Human Rights, vol.6, no.3 (Autumn 2002): 103-113.

In the second semester, we shall examine the following topics:

-Instruments of Human Rights - world courts, European Union, UNHCR.
-Accountability: Reconciliation committees, international tribunals.

-Looking inside: what are the nature of Western human rights abuse?

-Human Rights During War

The bulk of our readings in the second semester, however, will be focused on specific case studies and questions of human rights abuse. The selection of case studies will depend upon the issues selected for examination by students during the first semester.