MSFS-688-01 Human Rights and War
Fall for 2013-2014
This course will examine the increasingly complex link between human rights and war. War has always posed a threat to human rights, but the threat has evolved as wars have evolved from traditional inter-state conflicts to “new wars” in countries like Bosnia, which deliberately target civilians. More recently,, we have seen the emergence of the “hybrid” war against terror. Looking ahead, we see new challenges in the form of cyber-warfare, new forms of weaponry like drones, and even climate change. The nature of war is changing before our eyes.
What are the implications of these developments for human rights? Do they make it harder or easier to protect the vulnerable and disempowered? And is the traditional approach of international human rights – developing and implementing legal standards (conventions) through the UN and regional organizations - equal to the challenge? If not, how could the machinery of international human rights be adapted, to better respond? Is there still a role for traditional theories like Just War and even pacifism? How do we assess emerging doctrines, like R2P?
The course will address these key questions through a series of major case studies: World War 2; Iraq; Afghanistan; Cambodia; Bosnia; Rwanda and the Great Lakes; Sierra Leone; Uganda/LRA; the Middle East (Gaza); and Post 9/11. The course will mix theory and practice, and focus in particular on the role of community organizations as agents of peace.
Each participant will be assigned a case study and make a class presentation, working together or in teams. There will be one final paper, but no exams. A full syllabus and reading list will be posted in July. In the meantime, students will find a good overview in ‘HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONFLICT - Exploring the Links between Rights, Law, and Peace-building,’ Edited by Julie Mertus and Jeffrey Helsing (US Institute of Peace).
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '13: Guest, I (web site, description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
Other academic years
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