Instructor: Prof. Jonathan Yovel, University of Haifa and New York University
The course is geared to offer students an updated framework for navigating the language, structures, and contemporary challenges for understanding and practicing Human Rights in a globalized, yet fragmented regime. HR law, and international HR law in particular, has generally been approached either with a normative emphasis (what are the norms to be applied, followed by seeking, or constructing, institutions for their implementation) or with an institutional approach (setting up institutions, then letting the norms be generated by them). By an “integrated” approach to HR I propose to explore the partial collapse of this distinction in view of recent developments in the systems of HR implementation and new challenges, both practical and theoretical. It also means “opening up” both practice to a civil society of HR agents, beyond the traditional top-down structures of states and the UN.
In addition we would examine the “glocal” challenge of HR: combining global visions with domestic traditions and values, including the increasing critique that regards human rights regimes as an external imposition and even extension of colonialism.
The first class will be devoted to the general premise of the course and outlying key stations in contemporary IHR regime. We will take a closer look at crimes against humanity (CAH), and genocide in particular, discussing the revolutionary Arendtian notion (as in Hannah Arendt) that modernity has invented ways for humanity itself to be victimized, and its institutional applications. The second class will be devoted to a global and historical institutional analysis in view of the integrated approach. The third will discuss specific relations between HR and transitional justice, nation building, the role of civil society and other topics. In our last meeting we will stage a mini-trial presenting the tensions of the ECHR Finci & Sejdić v. Bosnia and Herzegovina.