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Elective: International Human Rights: History, Politics, and Economics


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


What are global human rights norms and values? What are the historical and normative underpinnings of human rights? What are the economic and political challenges that How do such norms evolve the way we understand them in the context of global governance? Why do some political communities experience more severe and prevalent human rights violations while others do not? How can we best promote human rights norms at the global, regional, national, and sub-national levels?

This is a reading-intensive seminar course, which examines the evolution of global human rights norms and its contemporary implications to global governance** — particularly**. The emphasis of the course is to examine the historical underpinnings, as well as the political and economic implications and effects of the global human rights regime. Successful completion of this course primarily depends on the student’s commitment to read all the required literature, to actively participate during class discussions through meaningful contributions, and to submit an insightful and relevant research paper.

The substantive content of the course is divided into four main parts.

The first part deals with the political history, normative concepts, and social scientific issues pertaining to the global human regime.

The second part of the course addresses key important issues in the global politics of human rights, with particular reference to the following issues:

  • international law and judicial politics;

  • democratization and civil society;

  • the role of US and the EU;

  • race, gender, and disability; and,

  • genocide and state repression.

The third part of the course deals with the relationship between the global political economy and international human rights, with particular reference to the following topics:

  • Keynesianism and neoliberalism;

  • global poverty; and,

  • labour rights and job security.

The final part of the course interrogates the future of the global human rights regime, with particular emphasis on the rise of authoritarianism, emerging powers from the Global South, and the decline of the West.

Course objectives

The Electives for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral and written presentation skills:

1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:

  • in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;

  • in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;

  • using up-to-date presentation techniques;

  • using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;

  • aimed at a specific audience.
    3. To actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

1. To be socio-communicative in collaborative situations.
2. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
3. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction


Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), which equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending seminars (2 hours per week x 12): 24 hours

  • Reading literature: 80 hours

  • Preparing assignments: 50 hours

  • Oral presentation: 25 hours

  • Writing the final research essay: 101 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Assignments and in-class participation 30%
Oral presentation 20%
Final Research Essay (5,000 words) 50%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the Final Essay on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the Final Essay.
In case of resubmission of the Final Essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2018 – 2019.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for the seminars. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

  • Regilme, Salvador Santino F Jr. (2016) Human Rights Violations and Protections. In The SAGE Encyclopedia of War Social Science Perspectives, edited by Paul Joseph. SAGE: London

  • Waltz, Susan. 2002.* “Reclaiming and Rebuilding the History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”* Third World Quarterly 23(3): 437–48.

  • Jensen, Steven L B. (2016) The Making of International Human Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Regilme, Salvador Santino F Jr. 2014. “The Social Science of Human Rights: the Need for a ‘Second Image’ Reversed?” Third World Quarterly 35(8): 1390–1405

  • Hafner-Burton, Emilie M. 2013. Making Human Rights a Reality. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press

  • Merry, Sally Engle. 2006.* Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice*. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

  • Risse, Thomas, Stephen C. Ropp, and Kathryn Sikkink. 2013. The Persistent Power of Human Rights: From Commitment to Compliance. eds. Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp, and Kathryn Sikkink. New York City: Cambridge University Press. (Chapters 1 and 2)

  • Meekosha, Helen, and Karen Soldatic. "Human rights and the global South: The case of disability." Third World Quarterly 32, no. 8 (2011): 1383-1397.

  • Pogge, Thomas. 2007. ‘Severe Poverty as a Human Rights Violation,’ in Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Who Owes What to the Very Poor. Oxford: Oxford University Press

  • Regilme, Salvador Santino F Jr. 2014. “Bringing the Global Political Economy Back in: Neoliberalism, Globalization, and Democratic Consolidation.” International Studies Perspectives 15(3): 277–96.

  • Regilme, Salvador Santino Fulo. (2018) Does US Foreign Aid Undermine Human Rights? the “Thaksinification” of the War on Terror Discourses and the Human Rights Crisis in Thailand, 2001 to 2006. Human Rights Review 27: 1–23.

  • Hopgood, Stephen; Snyder, Jack; Vinjamuri, Leslie. (2017) eds. Human Rights Futures. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • More required and recommended readings will be announced on Blackboard before the start of the course, and subsequently during the course. Check Blackboard for timely information.


Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 3 December:

1) On 3 December you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
2) Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Electives, in order of preference.
3) Based on preferences indicated by 16 December the Electives Coordinator will assign you to one specific Elective by 15 January.
4) Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
5) All students are required to enroll for their group in Blackboard to access all course information.

Students cannot register in uSis for the Elective, or be allowed into an Elective in any other way.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. S.S. Regilme

When contacting lecturers or tutors, please include your full name, student number, and tutorial group number.


The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is 14 June 2019.