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Understanding Human Rights examines the moral and legal foundations of the contemporary human rights discourse. It explores the origins of human rights in Western philosophy and the impact of this on some of the important debates in the discourse, including the charge of Western bias in the international system and the conflict between universalism and cultural relativism. It examines the development of national and international human rights instruments. The course examines the United Nations Human Rights treaty system and associated mechanisms. It introduces students to human rights protection and enforcement through Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, and Humanitarian Intervention; it discusses the role of the UN Security Council, and the role of the International Criminal Court and Special Tribunals. The course also critiques Australia’s human rights record by examining the relationship between Australian and International Law and seeing what rights are protected in the Constitution. Other protective measures are also identified. The course uses contemporary examples of human rights abuse to illustrate the content.

Faculty Faculty of Law
Study Level


Offering Terms

Term 1, Term 3



Indicative contact hours


Course Outline

To access course outline, please visit:


Additional Information

This course is offered as General Education.

Pre-2019 Handbook Editions

Access past handbook editions (2018 and prior)

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