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Security & Rights


Admission requirements

Required course:

  • Sovereignty and Statehood

**Recommended course:*

  • Principles of Public International Law


Human Rights are basic rights and freedoms that every human being is entitled to, irrespective of his or her nationality, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, place of residence or any other status. Human Rights are provided by law in the form of national legislation, international treaties, customary international law and other sources of international law. The different terminology used to address these rights, -i.e. ‘fundamental rights’, ‘human rights’, ‘fundamental freedoms’, ‘civil liberties’, reveals also the plurality of normative systems in place for their protection. Human rights become fundamental rights through their ‘Europeanization’, and national constitutions are there to guarantee their hierarchical status in positive law. Human Rights entail obligations, and states assume obligations and duties to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights.

Security, on the other hand, is a main concern for states and individuals, but both the concept and the pursuit of security raise a number of important and difficult questions and challenges. While Security provides for the identification of risk situations, human rights law provides the normative framework and limits to address such security risk situations. Human security, a relatively new approach, was adopted by the UN in 2012 to assist states in addressing challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people, by placing peoples’ security within the human rights discourse.

The course focuses on the normative symbiosis/tension of human rights and security. We will examine the different concepts related to security and the international legal framework set in place for the protection of Human Rights. We will examine state obligations under human rights law when confronted with security issues. We will also ponder on the role of regional human rights institutions in protecting human rights and addressing security concerns. To explore how a phenomenon may be framed in terms of rights and security, we will examine the migration/refugee crisis and terrorism.

Topics to be covered during the course include:

  • Conceptual outlines of Human Rights (Human Rights, Fundamental Rights, Civil Liberties)

  • Overview of the applicable international and European legal framework related to the protection of human rights

  • Concepts and Approaches to Security (Human, Economic, Food, Environmental, National, Personal)

  • Human Security and Human Rights of undocumented migrants and non-citizens

  • Regional Human Rights Institutions and their role in protecting human rights and addressing security issues.

  • Terrorism and Human Rights

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course, the students will be able to

  • Explain the main issues, concepts, and legal framework on Human Rights Law and Security;

  • Map the legal sources in international human rights law;

  • Evaluate how national, European and international legal norms interact in the field of human rights and security;

  • Distinguish the different terms and concepts as employed in legal and political discourse;

  • Discern relevant facts and apply legal principles to those facts.

Building on the knowledge, the students will be able to:

  • Develop writing skills, by employing appropriate and academically accepted referencing;

  • Describe facts and explain legal reasoning and courts judgments;

  • Write and present orally a well-structured argument, using different sources and literature;

  • Undertake a moderate level of analytical examination and original thought;


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course will meet for two 2-hour sessions per week from week 1-7 (week 8 is reading week). The structure of the 2-hour session will vary between seminar- style and focused discussion of assigned readings and student presentations. It is expected that students will engage actively in class discussions and debates.

Assessment Method

  • In class participation: 10% (ongoing week 1-7)

  • Discussion leader – group work 15% (week 2 or 3 to week 7)

  • Popular Media Reflection – Group work 20% (week 4)

  • Outline and annotated bibliography for individual research paper 20% (week 7)

  • Individual research paper 35% (week 8)

Reading list

A reading list will be made available before the course starts.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator, course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr Angela van der Berg, a.van.der.berg@luc.leidenuniv.nl