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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5864M Global Human Rights Advocacy

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Professor Oliver Lewis

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module explores the theory and practice of international human rights advocacy. It provides students with skills to use human rights laws and mechanisms to challenge human rights violations and achieve social justice outcomes.


At the end of this module, students will be aware of and have a clear understanding of:
- the complaints procedures and enforcement mechanisms that exist in the various UN, African and European human rights treaties;
- the key elements required for an effective strategic litigation and advocacy strategy to address human rights violations;
- the range of remedies available and the importance of implementation strategies to address complex multi-layered human rights violations (such as those experienced by persons with disabilities and other disempowered minorities);
- the debates that have critically analysed the effectiveness of using human rights litigation to address deep-seated social inequalities;
- harnessing print, TV and radio media, and how to use digital communication platforms, within advocacy strategies;
- how to work with the key stakeholders involved in human rights interventions, including private sector lawyers.

Learning outcomes
At the end of this module, a student should be able to:
- challenge human rights violations by identifying relevant international human rights provisions and then articulating these violations in the language of these provisions;
- determine the most appropriate international human rights forum for remedying these violations (e.g. judicial, quasi-judicial or committee)
- develop and evaluate international human rights advocacy strategies that seek to provide effective remedies for the human rights violations;
- effectively use media and social media as part of advocacy strategies;
- evaluate the impact, and ethical considerations, of human rights interventions.


The first part of the course consists of four (three hour) seminars. The first three will be completed before the students commence their studies in the international human rights legal clinic. The final seminar will be held towards the end of the semester when the students can reflect on their learning in the clinic.

Seminar 1: Policy advocacy
Overview of the course: Reading, assessments, expectations about student participation including presentations during the seminars and the international human rights legal clinic element, how to give and receive feedback, reflective practitioner skills.
Rhetoric to rights: Examining why human rights are not sometimes implemented, and what lawyers and NGOs can do about that, advocacy strategies, enforcement and remedies in international and domestic laws.
The practice of UN and regional advocacy: advocating before the Human Rights Council, treaty bodies, special procedures and organs such as the World Health Organization: emphasising working with grassroots NGOs, developing shadow reports, face-to-face advocacy, using concluding observations.

Seminar 2: Presentation skills
Students will learn the basics of giving effective presentations, and will have an opportunity to practice two presentations. They will take away a video of these presentations to review after class.

Seminar 3: Strategic litigation
Objectives, forum shopping, client selection, client support, risk management, drafting, responding to opponents, publicity, post-litigation advocacy. Procedure before the European Court of Human Rights: procedure, third party interventions, tactics, remedies, execution of judgments. The seminar will commence with student presentations – addressing the seminar topic.

Seminar 4: Building solidarity
Media: Understanding the ways journalists work, interview skills, producing press releases and holding press conferences, media tracking.
Digital platforms: Using tools such as Facebook and Twitter for human rights advocacy, crowdsourcing support, building solidarity with the public.
Pro bono: How NGOs can work with law firms who provide pro bono legal assistance, how to set up win-win projects. The seminar will commence with student presentations – addressing the seminar topic.

The second part of the course is clinical. Working in teams the students collaborate on a hypothetical case. The outputs will be a shadow report to a UN treaty body, and a reflective report. During the second part, tutorials will consolidate and share the learning.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning1100.00100.00
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours120.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

10 hours preparation for each of the 4 seminars = 40 hours
In addition, 20 hours preparation for oral presentation (student semester presentations) = 20 hours
120 hours essay

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words50.00
Presentation1x seminar presentation20.00
Reflective log1x 2,500 words30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 20/09/2019


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