The European Politics of Human Rights

Course Description

Course description

The supranational political system of the European Union today has the power to influence the protection of human rights all over the world. This course will introduce students into the theory and implementation of human rights and to EU politics to assess and protect them by significant executive and legislative powers.
This course offers a great insight into comparative European Studies by focusing on human rights as a connecting principle between all countries and peoples around the world. The first part of the course will focus on the origin and history of human rights and will offer an overview on the most important international and European institutions and laws. After a short introduction to the political system of the European Union, the second part of the course will center on real cases of human rights abuses occurring in EU countries. The students will be confronted with authentic problems and will discuss and analyze in class the problems occurring when trying to defend basic rights. Successful integration of different cultures will also be a topic of discussion.

The aim of the course is to provide for an informed understanding of the role of human rights in contemporary European politics. At the end of the course, students will be familiar with theoretical and practical approaches to human rights’ implementation and with the positive and negative aspects of EU politics regarding this subject. Another strong focus is an evaluation of EU institutions and the efficiency of their laws. Students will learn to deal with human rights issues and will be able to differentiate cases and topics at local, European and international levels. Furthermore, they will improve their ability to support basic rights in different ways.

The course can be attended by students with a basic knowledge of European political institutions. A good command of English is required.

Final average grade: final exam covering all subjects of the course program (70%) and active participation in class (30%)

Dr. Germana Favognano-Bihr graduated in Political Science and International Relations and got her PhD in Human Rights Studies at the University of Palermo (Italy) with a dissertation on the International Criminal Court of the U.N. She was active in in the field of human rights education and migration issues for NGOs in London, Italy, Brazil and Germany. She held seminars on human rights education at the University of Tübingen and for the political representatives of the Committees of Italians Abroad. Her special interest is the role of international courts and tribunals in protecting and promoting human rights.