Please note that this module
was withdrawn in 2013 and
is no longer available.
Tutor: Dr Christopher Moores
Conceptualizations of human rights have been crucial to the ideological framework for the institutions of global governance since 1945. Yet, the late twentieth century has witnessed repeated and devastating instances of political violence and systematic repression. This undergraduate final-year Advanced Option module examines this paradox by assessing the development of human rights politics during the twentieth century. The module asks the following questions: What are human rights? How have human rights been protected, advocated and confirmed through the twentieth century? Can human rights be global in scope, or are ideas of human rights manifestations of cultural imperialism or naive utopianism?
The module has three parts. The first section traces the intellectual traditions underpinning human rights politics and examines the appearance and subsequent importance of rights within international institutions in the post-war era. The second section builds on this by examining how different strands of the contemporary international human rights movement have defined and worked on different human rights issues. Case studies include: Amnesty International, the global women’s rights movement, consumer rights advocacy, decolonization movements and humanitarian and international aid NGOs. The third section concludes by reflecting on a series of broader conceptual challenges surrounding human rights in the contemporary world. What contributions can historians make to discussions about human rights?