MA in International Law and Human Rights

Programme Description:

The Masters programme in International Law and Human Rights provides students with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the role of law in today’s complex global society, and its impacts, successes and challenges in the ‘quest’ to promote human rights at all levels. This highly interactive and stimulating programme, which attracts students from all parts of the world, is carefully designed for both lawyers interested in human rights practice on the ground, as well as for field practitioners interested in human rights strategic litigation and advocacy. Thus, the programme aims to ensure that all its graduates are equipped with the tools necessary for working in the various aspects of the interface between international law and human rights, including with inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations.  


With the specific objective to build incremental knowledge among students, the programme builds on three stages. The first stage develops the necessary transdisciplinary foundations necessary for all global professionals today through the two UPEACE common courses on Peace and Conflict Studies, and the United Nations system. The second stage begins with core foundational courses in the field of international law, including public international law, human rights law, law related to armed conflicts, transitional justice and international criminal law, and the law related to protection of various vulnerable persons and groups. The third stage engages students in a thorough specialization in the field of human rights. Students conduct an in-depth review of the procedures and practices of international human rights bodies, tribunals and courts, at the global and UN level as well as at the regional level. Students are expected to gain a comprehensive understanding of the various judicial and non-judicial bodies that are at the frontline of questions of interpretation, the development of international human rights standards, and enforcement. Focus is also given to building the capacities of students with respect to human rights advocacy in different contexts. This includes the ability to draft reports and legal briefs, participate in negotiations, to critically analyze legal documents including treaties, resolutions, and judgments, strategic litigation, civil society action and NGO work, amongst others. Finally, students critically engage with the contemporary and emerging areas of tensions between global policy making and human rights, especially the impacts of the principal drivers of globalization on human rights. Students are thus provided with the analytical tools to work and research in cutting-edge areas where human rights impacts need to be assessed and addressed, such as international trade, finance, development (including analysis of topics such as SDGs and development aid), investment, corporate responsibilities, and international health regulation, amongst others.


The programme is taught by faculty with rich international experience, as well as by visiting professors from prestigious universities and key international organizations. A key aspect of the programme is its in-built certification courses from UNHCR, ICRC, and the ILO.


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