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SDGs, Human Rights and International Law


Admission requirements

This course is part of Sustainability, Climate Change and Food and therefore only accessible to students enrolled in that Minor.


The global production of food should be enough to feed the entire world; however no less that 828 million people still go hungry. There are numerous current examples of food insecurity. Extreme drought is once again putting Somalia at risk of severe famine. The war in Yemen has led to acute hunger at unpresented levels. And if things were not bad enough, the war in Ukraine is causing serious disruptions in global food supplies, with grave consequences for many developing countries. As pointed out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) “Targeted Humanitarian action is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods in several hunger hotspots”, however the provision of humanitarian assistance faces numerous obstacles”.

Poverty, conflict, natural disaster are all major causes of hunger. Climate change further exacerbates these causes. Taking SDG 2, which aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, as a starting point, this course will focus on the legal questions surrounding access to food and food security, both in peace and wartime. The legal questions that arise are diverse. What does the human right to food entail? How does international law try to mitigate the effects of war on food security? What happens if starvation is in and out of itself used as method of warfare? What are the rules regulating humanitarian assistance? Can there be accountability for jeopardizing food security?

Different relevant fields of international law, such as for example international human rights law, the laws regulating war as well as international criminal law, will be looked at to assess the different questions raised. Throughout the course, concrete examples will also be used to further illustrate the theoretical discourse.

Course Objectives


  • Assess the Sustainable Development Goals and reflect on their legal value.

  • Identify and interpret the legal rules relevant to food security, both in peace and wartime.

  • Analyse how the different relevant legal frameworks interact.

  • Analyse the relevant mechanisms in terms of accountability.


  • Critically reflect on the limits of the relevant legal frameworks.

  • Capacity to clearly discern legal implications from broader ones.

  • Learn where to find legal sources and how to interpret and apply them.

  • Develop legal argumentation skills


TBA; information will be published before May 2023.

Mode of instruction

The first session of each week will be a lecture; the second session will combine practical skills and learning from invited experts and practitioners through guest lectures.

Assessment Method

This course will be based on two assessments.

Newspaper article assignment

  • 30 % of final grade

  • Grade must be 5,5 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit of a fail is possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Final exam – combination of multiple choice and open questions

  • 70% of final grade

  • Grade must be 5,5 or higher to pass the course

  • Resit of a fail is possible

  • Resit will take the same form

Reading list

Given that this course assesses different legal frameworks there is no single textbook that can be used and the course will hence rely on a variety of different readings (mainly book chapters, journal articles and blog posts). The links to the relevant readings will be provided on Brightspace.


Registration starts early May. Additional information TBA.