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Foundations of Justice




Admission Requirements

100-level courses in Global Justice, World Politics, and International Development give access to this course, which in turn gives access to 300-level courses in Global Justice, World Politics, and International Development.


The course will explore the foundations of (global) justice, primarily from a legal perspective. Hence, the course will offer a critical inquiry into the role of law with regard to issues of global injustice (e.g., political oppression, radical inequality, extreme poverty, historic injustice, environmental degradation) and this in a context of economic globalization, forced migration and climate change.

The course will build on your knowledge and understanding of justice issues (e.g., retributive justice, distributive justice) which you gained in previous courses (e.g., Global Challenges Justice, Introduction to Political Philosophy, Introduction to Public International Law). Thus the course will benefit from your existing experience and expertise.

Course Objectives

When you have finished this course you should be able to

  • Analyse and articulate manifestations of injustice, their nature and their legal/nonlegal
    implications as well as the interrelationship between the local and the global

  • Contextualise and situate legal aspects and questions of (in)justice in their historic (e.g.,
    colonialism), socio-economic (e.g., globalization), and political (e.g., hegemony)

  • Critically reflect and comment on the authority of law in relation to justice, in particular
    as regards concepts such as the rule of law, accountability, legality, legitimacy, etc.;

  • Identify and contrast different (legal) pathways (fora, remedies) to justice, including
    dialogue, development cooperation, courts, military force, market mechanisms and
    global institutions;

  • Conduct research that can inform critical (legal) interventions that address injustice
    with the aim to bring about social change – by reducing and/or remedying injustice –
    and thus contribute to fairer societies and a more just global order.

Mode of Instruction

Two weekly interactive seminars will provide you with the space for thoughtful participation
in class discussions, peer reviews and group presentations, based on the careful analysis of
required readings. Teaching methods further include group work and web-postings to
support in-class debate. In your final essay you will be able to explore a topic of your choice
by making meaningful use of the literature prescribed in the course.


Assessment: Weekly web-postings (300 words)
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Weeks 1 – 7: Days before class, before 21:00

Assessment: In-class participation
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Weeks 1 – 7: Ongoing

Assessment: Group presentations (2 per student)
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Week 1 – 7: Ongoing (individual dates TBA)

Assessment: Proposal final essay (500 words)
Percentage: 5%
Deadline: Week 4: Friday, before 21:00

Assessment: Final essay (3,000 words)
Percentage: 35%
Deadline: Week 8: Friday, before 17:00


Required Readings:

Required reading material will be made available on Blackboard.

Recommended Readings:

Bingham, Tom, The Rule of Law (London, England: Penguin Books, 2011)

Fagan, Andrew, The Atlas of Human Rights: Mapping Violations of Freedom Worldwide
(Oxford, England: Earthscan/Taylor & Francis Group, 2010).

Stiglitz, Joseph, The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future
(New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012)

World Bank, Atlas of Global Development (3rd ed.; Collins, 2011). Available at

Contact Information


Weekly Overview

Week 1: Revisiting Justice
1. Mapping Injustice: Faces of injustice, concepts of justice
2. Mapping Justice: International courts and institutions in The Hague
Week 2: Evaluating (In)justice
1. The International Legal/Economic Order: Impact on the poor
2. World Poverty and Inequality
Week 3: Courting Justice
1. Courting International Justice: Adjudication
2. Courting Social Justice: Transformation
Week 4: Sustaining Justice
1. Developing Justice: Legal empowerment and access to justice
2. Environmental Justice/Climate Justice (Intergenerational Justice)
Week 5: Recovering Justice (Historic Injustice)
1. Transitional Justice and Social Repair
2. Apologies, forgiveness and reconciliation
Week 6: Measuring (In)justice
1. Income, GDP, GINI
2. Basic needs, capabilities and human rights
Week 7: Globalizing Justice
1. Duty to protect: Humanitarian Intervention
2. Duty to assist/cooperate: Development assistance/finance
Week 8: Final week

Preparation for first session

  • Follow current affairs in the media.

  • Identify instances of injustice.

  • Justify your choice and provide reasons or criteria for your judgement. Why do you
    consider this event or that situation as an injustice?

  • What is your solution? How would you address this injustice? Is there any pathway to
    justice on the horizon?