Studying Law at RomaTre

Academic Year 2017-2018

Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2018)


Human Rights

Prof. Mirko Sossai


The course starts on Thursday, March 1 and meets in Aula 1.02 (Tommaseo building, via Ostiense,139)
Class hours: 
Wednesdays: 17:45 – 19:30
Thursdays: 8:30 – 10:15
Fridays: 8.30 – 10-15

Course description:  
The purpose of the course is to provide an introduction to the theoretical and legal issues raised by the development of human rights at the international level.
The course is designed to give the tools to help students to approach universal and regional mechanisms of human rights protection. Topics will include the historical development of ideas which has led to the conceptualization of human rights; the understanding of human rights law in the perspective of international law theory; universal and regional systems of protection; typology of State obligations; the scope of human rights.
In the last part, classes are organised thematically. Students will address contemporary issues related to human rights. This allows students to make comparisons and connections between different theories and legal mechanisms of protection.

Course Learning Objectives
At the end of this course, students should be proficient in the following subject areas and skills:
- being familiar with the historical development and the theoretical approaches related to human rights
- having knowledge of the global and regional systems of protection
- carrying out proper analysis on selected issues in human rights

Course Learning Activities
To achieve the above objectives, texts, relevant documentation and case-law will be presented and students will engage in class discussions/debates.

Assessment tools
Student evaluation will be based on class work, class participation, a short essay, and a final exam.

Attendance policy
Class attendance is compulsory

Course textbook(s)
Reference book:
Dinah Shelton, Advanced Introduction To International Human Rights Law. Cheltenham - UK: E. Elgar, 2014.
Students will receive a reader which will include selected articles and excerpts from relevant literature

Course Schedule
Week  Topic and/or Activity Materials
1. (1-2 March) The History of International Human Rights
D. Shelton, ‘An Introduction to the History of International Human Rights Law’ (2003) GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works. Paper 1052 (only pp. 1-15)

T. Buergenthal, ‘The Normative and Institutional Evolution of International Human Rights’ (1997) 19:4 Human Rights Quarterly 703-723

Further readings:
S. Moyn, ‘Human Rights in History’, The Nation, 11 August 2010.
2. (7-9 March) Human Rights Law as Part of International Law
A. legal sources

W. Kälin and J. Künzli. The Law of International Human Rights Protection, Oxford 2009, 31-33, 37-55, 67-72
B. Simma & P. Alston, ‘The Sources of Human Rights Law: Custom, Jus Cogens, and General Principles’ 12 Aust. YBIL (1988) 82
3. (14-16 March) Human Rights Law as Part of International Law
B. reservations to and interpretation of human rights treaties
F. Megret, ‘The Nature of International Human Rights Obligations’ (September 11, 2009). available at SSRN:
(read pages 1-18)
G. Letsas, ‘The ECHR as a Living Instrument: Its Meaning and its Legitimacy’ (March 14, 2012), available at SSRN:
4. (21-23 March) Generations of HR and the Typology of States’ Obligations
Death penalty and human rights
1. O. De Schutter, ‘The Typology of States' Obligations’ (2012).
2. HRC, General Comment No. 31: Nature of the General Legal Obligation Imposed on States Parties to the Covenant, 2004 
3. Soering v. United Kingdom; Al-Saadoon and Mufdhi v. United Kingdom
5. (4-6 April) On the Territorial Reach of Human Rights: State responsibility and ‘jurisdiction’
R. Wilde, ‘The Extraterritorial Application of International Human Rights Law on Civil and Political Rights,’ in S. Sheeran and N. Rodley (eds), Routledge Handbook of International Human Rights Law, Routledge, 2014, 635
6. (11-13 April) Domestic Implementation of IHRL
1. O. Pollicino, 'The European Court of Human Rights and the Italian Constitutional Court: No ‘Groovy Kind of Love’', in  K. Siegler (ed), The UK and of European Court of Human Rights - A Strained Relationship?, Hart Publishing, 2015
2. P. Pustorino, ‘A New Case on Torture in Europe: Cestaro v. Italy’, in Ejil:Talk!, 13 May 2015
7. (18-20 April) Mechanisms of Protection: the United Nations System
W. Kälin and J. Künzli. The Law of International Human Rights Protection, Oxford 2009, 206-234
8. (26-27) April) Regional Systems Compared: Inter-American, European and African S. Greer, ‘Europe’ in D. Moeckli, S. Shah, S. Sivakumaran (eds), International Human Rights Law, Oxford 2017, 441-464
C. Heyns, D. Padilla & L. Zwaak, ‘A schematic comparison of regional human rights systems: an update’ (2006) 4 SUR – Int’l J. Hum. Rts 163-171
9. (2-3 May)
Lodging an Application with the European Court of Human Rights
CCBE, The European Court of Human Rights: Questions & Answers for Lawyers, September 2016
European Court of Human Rights, Practical Guide on Admissibility Criteria
10. (9-10 May)
 The Enforcement of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Seminar: Giuseppe Palmisano, ‘Protection of Social Rights in Europe: Challenges and Prospects’
O. De Schutter, ‘Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as Human Rights: An Introduction’ CRIDHO Working Paper 2013/2 (pp. 1-28)
Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 28 September 2011
11. Extreme Poverty and Human Rights P. Alston, ‘The Populist Challenge to Human Rights’, 9 Journal of Human Rights Practice, 2017, 1–15
12. Transnational Corporations and Human Rights UN, Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, 2011



 Student comments Spring 2018

Mirko Sossai
 Seminar Series 2018

 Student comments Spring 2017

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