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What is International Human Rights Law?

Examine the history & nature of human rights law, its norms, systems, and institutions, and consider its proclaimed universality.

1,248 enrolled on this course

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What is International Human Rights Law?

1,248 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Delve into the nature of human rights law

The development of international human rights law started quite slowly, with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and the first binding UN human rights treaty adopted nearly 20 years later in 1965.

On this four-week course, you’ll examine the nature of international human rights law, asking questions about the history and geography of its evolution and whether its particular history and geography have had an impact on the question of its alleged universality.

Discover the history of human rights law

You’ll travel through time to examine some of the monumental moments that led to the development of international human rights law.

From the Magna Carta to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR), you’ll explore the different steps that got us where we currently are.

Explore whether human rights are truly universal

During week three of this course, you’ll discuss the much-claimed universality of human rights; the arguments for and against the idea that human rights law is applicable and relevant to all people in any part of the world.

You’ll examine the history leading up to the adoption of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and consider the role of state sovereignty, in an attempt to assess universality claims.

Learn about the norms, systems and institutions designed to protect human rights

The final week in this course will take you through the UN human rights system, examining both treaties and the bodies designed to oversee the implementation of human rights. You will also look briefly at regional systems for the protection of human rights.

What topics will you cover?

  • The nature of human rights
  • History of human rights
  • Universality of Rights
  • Norms, systems, and institutions

When would you like to start?

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of what constitutes international human rights law, its norms, systems and institutions
  • Explore the history of international human rights law
  • Debate arguments concerning the claims of universality of human rights

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone working for national and international governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as lawyers looking to deepen their knowledge base.

If you want to further your knowledge, you may be interested in these courses, from the same provider,that share similar subject matter and overall learning outcomes:

Who will you learn with?

I am Senior Lecturer in Law at Kent Law School, University of Kent. I specialise in International Human Rights Law and International Migration Law.

Who developed the course?

The University of Kent

The University of Kent, the UK’s European university, is one of the country’s most dynamic universities. Established in 1965, it now has 19,850 students studying at its various campuses.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 13 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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