02 July 2013

Confidence Crisis in Human Rights: Implications for the UK

Intensive Course on Challenges faced by the International Human Rights Regime
9 - 13 September 2013, Middlesex University London

The promise posited by human rights, derived as a concept inspired by the intrinsic dignity of human beings, and as an effective tool to combat inequality and the abuse of power, is in crisis. The daily news on the use of human rights to protect persons who are a threat to the survival of the State and its citizens, the alleged misuse of human rights to consolidate rather than fight undue privileges, the portrayal of human rights mechanisms as a ‘foreign regime’ hampering national democratic processes, and the antagonisms of States such as Brazil and the United Kingdom towards regional human rights systems of protections they once helped to create and embraced, denotes that it is not only the economy facing a confidence crisis.
Today we are confronted with unfair consequences of structural adjustment programmes, uneven impact of trade liberalisation, side effects of the protection of intellectual property regimes, and in the midst of this, a renewed perception of human rights as a neo-colonial tool to implement hidden political agendas. Mistrust of the international human rights regime, often voiced by countries in the South as attempts to undermine their sovereignty, are increasingly being augmented by the voices of Western States such as the UK and the USA. This is illustrated by the reluctance of the United Sates to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the failure to allow unfettered access to human right mechanisms, or to investigate the situation in Guantanamo Bay. More recently it underpins British posturing towards human rights treaties and their implementation, with the latest opposition being its resistance to implement the European Court of Human Rights’ decision regarding prisoners’ rights to vote.

The objective of this course is to provide participants with an understanding of the legal basis underpinning the creation of human rights standards and organs through the prism of topics considered a priority on the international human rights agenda. By the end of the course participants will be able to analyse the impact of international and national politics on the structures and functions of human rights mechanisms, be able to critically evaluate the existing system, and identify current and potential strategies for effective functioning within it.

The five-day course is divided into three parts. On the first day, students will be introduced to the events and ideologies that have resulted in a situation where countries that once led the creation of human rights norms and monitoring mechanisms at international level, are now distancing themselves from these. Days two, three and four, forming the second part, will focus on incendiary and divisive human rights topics that dominate intergovernmental agendas, in particular:

(i) the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion;
(ii) the consequences for human rights of austerity measures and migration policies;
(iii) a critical examination of the role of the United Nations Security Council and international law in conflict zones.
The third part will focus on emerging themes and challenges represented by the applicability of the human rights framework, with the activities undertaken by corporations, and the relationship between development projects, the environment and human rights driving the discussion during the last day.

Recommended for:
The course is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students with an interest in human rights, international and domestic civil servants, and organisations engaged with international and national human rights monitoring bodies and processes. It would be of particular interest to journalists and those interested in understanding the different strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights.

Course schedule
Day 1 – What is the future for human rights?

09:30 - 09:45
Welcome address

Professor Joshua Castellino, Dean School of Law

09:45 - 10:30
Objectives of the course, reading materials, introductions
Dr. Elvira Domínguez Redondo

10:30 - 11:00: Coffee break

11:00 - 13:00
The end of the liberal state
Professor Joshua Castellino

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 17:30
Debunking the myths: the UK and the European Court of Human Rights
Prof. Philip Leach and Alice Donald

Day 2 – Incendiary issues of international & domestic human rights: The freedoms of expression & religion

09:30 - 13:00
Freedom of expression and hate speech
Dr. David Keane

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 17:30
Freedom of religion
Dr. Erica Howard

17:30 - 18:30
Round table
(addressing a set of specific set questions and others from the audience which could be fed in from day one)

Day 3 – Incendiary issues of international & domestic human rights: Austerity and migration

09:30 - 13:00
Austerity and human rights
Alice Donald

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 17:30
Dr. Helena Wray

Gathering: Greyhound Pub

Day 4 – Incendiary issues of international & domestic human rights: Can international law deliver justice?

09:30 - 11:00
International waw in conflict zones: Is international humanitarian law really humanitarian?
Prof. William Schabas

11:30 - 13:00
From invading Iraq to supporting the Arab Spring: The lights and shadows of intervening in third countries
Prof. William Schabas

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 17:30
Security Council and human rights: the role of the UK
Dr. Elvira Domínguez-Redondo

Day 5 – Emerging themes

09:30 - 13:00
Business & Human Rights
Dr. Nadia Bernaz

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 16:00
The role of ‘Free Prior and Informed Consent’ to protect indigenous peoples’ rights
Dr. Cathal Doyle

16:00 - 18:00
Environment and human rights
Marc Limon

Wrap up
Dr. Elvira Domínguez-Redondo
The course at a glance
• Code: SUM3003
• Fee: £400 - discounted rate for Middlesex University students and alumni: £200•
Dates: Monday 9 September to Friday 13 September 2013
• Times: 09:30 - 17:00
• Lunch: There will be an hour for lunch each day. There are several food outlets located on campus or in the local area. Please note that lunch is not included in the course fee.
• Location: Middlesex University Hendon Campus, room to be confirmed.
• Accommodation: Rooms are available in our Halls of Residence (Platt Halls).

How to apply
Please contact our Summer School team or visit Middlesex University London website to download a short course application form.

For any administrative enquiries please contact the Summer School team at the Summer School Office:
Middlesex University
The Burroughs
UK - London NW4 4BT
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8411 5782 • Email: sschool@mdx.ac.uk

For any enquiries relating to academic course content, please contact:
Dr. Elvira Domínguez Redondo (E.Dominguez-Redondo@mdx.ac.uk)

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