LAWS3182/JURD7582 International Human Rights Law and Advocacy

Lecturer: Justine Nolan

What is the course about?
All the interesting topics from the law bundled into one course! International human rights law includes topics like the death penalty, genocide, the role of business in human rights, refugees, discrimination, and many more. We look at the issues from both a legal and socio-political angle.

Why does the subject interest you?
There is so much of human rights law in our everyday life (or there should be!); these topics are constantly changing and there are very few clear legal solutions for the problems.

Do you have any advice to give students who are interested in taking this course?
It will easily be one of the more interesting courses you do at law school.

How will this course be relevant, say, a year after graduating?
It is relevant because you will continue to read about the issues in the news every day, many will affect your workplace, government policies, and how you approach and discuss contemporary topics. Some but not all students will go onto work either domestically or internationally on these issues. Past students have done internships at the international courts, worked at international NGOs like Human Rights Watch, and got involved in the human rights interest groups at the major law firms.

Student: Preeta Seshachari

Please give us a brief overview of the main topics studied in the course
This elective provides students with the opportunity to learn about human rights concepts in the context of the international human rights framework. The course covers a range of thematic topics and explores various enforcement mechanisms for each area. Topics included contemporary concerns with human rights, the international human rights system framework, and major international human rights instruments and their enforcement. Other themes covered year to year include genocide, the death penalty, terrorism universalism and cultural relativism, human rights in Australia, international standards and protections for refugees, international law of equality and discrimination globalisation and human rights, and UN reform.

What were the course assessments and your thoughts about them?
The assessment structure included 15% class participation, a research essay weighted at 40% and a final exam worth 45%. The essay was based on topics covered in initial lectures that covered the international human rights framework, while the exam included questions on thematic topics. The exam consisted of five essay questions. Students were expected to write essays on three of the questions provided. The essay is a valuable opportunity to research and consolidate your understanding of the international human rights framework. Completing it makes it a lot easier to understand the content in the thematic topics covered later on in the course. The exam required a thorough understanding of the class content and allocated readings. Keeping up with the readings and regularly participating in class discussion make doing the assessments well within your power.

What did you like about the course?
The course was incredibly engaging and really developed my critical thinking skills. Justine Nolan skillfully facilitated class discussion and provided students with many activities to apply their newly acquired knowledge. Each lesson was intense but students often finished classes with a sense of accomplishment and understanding. In addition, the topics were always interesting and often featured appearances by specialist guest speakers.