Introduction to Human Rights


The course is in four parts.

1 What are human rights?

  • Defining the term
  • The values underlying human rights
  • How human rights develop
  • Examples of struggles for human rights
  • Human rights duties and obligations
  • Dealing with rights that conflict with each other.

2 Monitoring, enforcement and protection

  • How rights are enshrined in law.
  • How to monitor that laws are being enforced:
  • In particular places, such as prisons, courts, hospitals and schools
  • In particular situations, such as an election
  • On specific issues, such as child labour or female circumcision.

The mechanisms and bodies set up to make monitoring easier.

3 The human rights system

  • The treaties and laws that encode human rights as enforceable
  • statements of law, such as:
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • How courts enforce and neglect different kinds of human rights
  • The set of international laws that govern situations of armed conflict.

4 Values in a human rights organisation

A human rights organisation should reflect the underlying values of human rights – not only in its monitoring and campaigning but also in its own practice. These values and practices include:

  • Respect for other people
  • Tolerance of different points of view
  • Participation of staff in decision-making
  • Transparency in the decision-making process
  • Accountability of managers, staff and office-holders
  • Fair pay and terms of service
  • Good working conditions
  • Sensitivity on issues of gender.