Howard University School of Law

International Law of Human Rights Seminar

HU Course No. 600-672


Please note that this course is still under development and that this version of the syllabus is not final.

Fall 2014

Prof. Steven D. Jamar

Houston Hall 402
fax: 202-806-8428

Please note that although the syllabus shows what is planned, the course is unlikely to follow the schedule exactly. This syllabus is subject to change to address current events and ongoing developments in the law, and to meet the students' needs as perceived by the professor during the semester.

last updated 4 April 2014


When: T Th 1:40-2:55

Howard University Statement of ADA Procedures

Howard University is committed to providing an educational environment that is accessible to all students. In accordance with this policy, students in need of accommodations due to a disability should contact the HUSL Office of the Dean of Students (202-806-8006), for verification and determination of reasonable accommodations as soon as possible after admission to the Law School and at the beginning of each semester as needed.

Table of Contents

Course Overview

This seminar will introduce students to the study of the international law of human rights. Students will become familiar with the core IHR treaties and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with foundational principles of IHR, and with ongoing issues confronting IHR advocates.

Particular issues addressed vary from year to year depending upon current events, student interest, and the professor’s assessment of significant ongoing concerns. Issues can run the gamut from civil and political rights like free exercise of religion, equality, freedom of expression, and aspects of liberty and political empowerment to economic, social, and cultural rights such as the right to health, education, a clean environment, work.

In the coming year recurring themes will include (1) the human right of economic, social, and cultural development with some emphasis on the role of intellectual property in advancing human rights; (2) problems of universality of human rights across diverse cultures; and (3) on minority rights and on the rights of indigenous peoples and communities.

The course is a seminar. For the first part of the semester the professor will do some lecturing, but most of the class time will be discussing IHR topics based largely but not exclusively on the readings assigned each week from the textbook. In the latter part of the course students will conduct class on their research papers (on topics selected in consultation with and subject to the approval of the professor).

Grades will be based upon (1) class participation, (2) conducting the class (or portion of a class) on your paper topic, and (3) the final paper.

Learning Objectives

Required Book and Materials

Hurst Hannum, S. James Anaya, Dinah L. Shelton, International Human Rights: Problems of Law, Policy, and Practice (5th ed. Wolters Kluwer L. & Bus. 2011)

Richard B. Lillich, Hurst Hannum, S. James Anaya, Dinah L. Shelton, International Human Rights: Documentary Supplement (latest edition companion to main text)

Materials prepared by the Professor (downloads and handouts from time to time)

Materials assigned by students for their class presentations

Recommended Books



Professor Contact Information


402 Houston Hall



Email: (I will typically respond to email within 24 hours.)

Office Hours:

The times listed below may change. I will post up-to-date office hours online at





Fri. 10:00-noon by appointment

Occasionally I will not be able to keep these office hours because of other pressing commitments.

If you need to see me at another time, please contact me so we can make an appointment.

I am often in my office at times not posted as office hours and during those times I am sometimes able to meet with students.


This course is subject to grade normalization with the average of the grades falling between 82 and 88.

Quality, effort, diligence, and active involvement will all be included in assessment of each aspect of the grade. Quality matters, of course, but will not be the sole determinant. Effort will matter as well as results of those efforts. (Of course there tends to be a strong correlation between effort and result.)

1. Class participation (20%)
2. Teaching a class session on your topic (20%)
3. Final paper (60%)

Final Paper (60 pts)

The final paper is to be a research paper at least 15-20 pages (4500-6000 words) long if not for LW III credit or a thesis paper from 25-40 pages (7500-12,000 words) long if done for LW III credit. The paper is to be based upon original research. All LW III papers must be thesis papers, i.e., they must state a thesis that will be evaluated and proven or at least defended. While the research and evaluation of the topic must be neutral and objective, the point to be evaluated need not be. Non-LWIII papers need not be thesis-driven; they can be more descriptive research papers reporting on a particular topic. Some possible topics and potential thesis statements will be distributed at the start of class as examples. You will not be limited to topics suggested by the distributed list.

In selecting your topic, please keep in mind at least the following: it should be something that interests you; it should lend itself to completion in one semester; and it should provide fodder for a class discussion.

Part of your final paper grade will be based upon your meetings with the professor as you develop your topic and work on the paper.

Be sure to comply with my writing formalities requirements. For those submitting the paper for LW III credit, be sure to comply with all LW III requirements.

Class presentation of your paper topic (20 pts)

You will be required to conduct a class on your topic toward the end of the semester. I will help you prepare to the extent you seek assistance. Typical presentations would include an introductory lecture (with or without powerpoint slides) followed by some Q & A by the students (and professor) on your presentation. This Q&A session is likely to develop into a discussion of the topic and the presenter should plan some prompts to facilitate the discussion. The presentation may also include an exercise or two related to the topic.

Part of your presentation grade will be based on your meeting with the professor and preparing a good class ahead of time.

Class attendance and participation (20 pts)

You will be graded on the quantity and quality of your participation, including the quality of your preparation for class discussion.

The law school attendance policy will be enforced. If you miss 25% or more of the scheduled class sessions, starting from the first day of scheduled classes, you will receive an "F" for the course unless you formally withdraw from the course before the last day to drop a course as set by the law school academic calendar. Under the law school policy, attendance means being present at the start of class and throughout the class period. Tardy students and students who leave class early may be counted as absent.

Course Description and Requirements

In this seminar students will explore a few of the problems arising in the field of International Law of Human Rights. A portion of the course will examine core documents relating to and defining international human rights. In addition, certain cross-cutting themes will be considered such as universality of IHR, women and IHR, and developing areas such as environmental and economic empowerment rights.

The course is a seminar with students doing and presenting research papers on topics they select in consultation with the professor.

Some class time will be spent on general writing topics such as choosing a topic, what a thesis research paper is, research and writing tips, the scholarly voice, and the like. Depending upon topics selected, we may also do some group brain-storming on each other's topics to help each other refine one's thoughts. All students need to notify me of his or herdecision as to whether the paper is to be a LWIII paper or not at the time the topic proposal is submitted. The requirements for LW III credit are stricter than the regular course paper requirement. Paper requirements:

All papers:

  1. By the 5th week of class, each student must submit the following:
    • a. a proposed topic with a ½ to 1 page sketch of what the paper is intended cover. If the paper is to be submitted for LW III credit, this sketch must include a thesis statement.
    • b. An annotated bibliography of properly cited primary and secondary materials with a ½ to ¾ page annotation for each source. The annotation is to describe the source and to explain the how that source relates to the proposed topic very briefly. At least two of the sources must be secondary sources.
  2. During the 5th and 6th weeks, each student is to meet with me individually at least once to discuss and refine the paper topic.
  3. A draft of the paper of at least 10 pages is to be submitted by the time student presentations start (around the 10th week -- precise date will be determined later).
  4. The final version of the paper is due at the start of the last day the course meets. This deadline can be extended in the discretion of the professor upon timely request of the student.

Non-LW III papers: 15-20 page(4500-6000 words) research paper; can be largely descriptive; need not be a thesis paper.

LW III. If you are submitting your paper for LW III credit, you must meet the requirements for LW III papers. The essential differences are the length (25 vs. 15 pages) and the sophistication required. The 15 page paper is more a mere research paper while the 25 page(7500-12,000 words) LW III paper is required to be a thesis paper. The HUSL Student Handbook provides:

  1. Legal Writing III is not a particular course; instead, it is a significant scholarly writing requirement which can be met in a number of ways. To satisfy the LW III requirement, each student is required to complete, under the supervision of a full-time faculty member (not an adjunct or other instructor who is not a faculty member employed under a full-time faculty contract), (1) in-depth research in a specialized area, resulting in (2) a written product in which the issues involved are fully analyzed and supportable conclusions articulated. Typically, the Legal Writing III requirement is satisfied in the student’s third year.
  2. To satisfy the Legal Writing III requirement, the written product must meet the following conditions:
    • a. The written product must be completed under the supervision of a full-time member of the faculty who has agreed to assist the student;
    • b. A minimum grade of 75 must be earned on the written product;
    • c. The written product must use proper legal citation form, give proper attribution to the work of others, and be the equivalent of no less than twenty-five (25) double spaced typewritten pages with customary margins (or 7500 words); and
    • d. Each student is required to submit an outline or outline substitute (such as a thesis statement and annotated bibliography) and at least one draft of the written product to the supervising faculty member prior to submission of the completed written product.

Writing Formalities

1. The writings are to be typed, double-spaced, with standard margins and standard fonts with a size of at least 12 pts. Papers submitted electronically must comply with font requirements and length requirements in word count, but need not be formatted for double-space printing.

2. Cover page: Please note that each document (if only one is assigned) or set of documents (if more than one is assigned for that project) is to have a cover page which includes the following information in the upper left hand corner:


Week 1 Introduction

For the first class come prepared to discuss some recent news concerning international human rights concerns in the United States and in the rest of the world.

Hannum ch. 1 The Concept of Human Rights; Documentary Supplement: UN Charter; UDHR; ICCPR; ICESCR

Week 2 Guaranteeing HR by Treaty – healthy environment

Hannum ch. 2

Week 3 Non-treaty HR norms – Indigenous peoples

Hannum ch. 3

Week 4 Torture, wartime, terrorism

Hannum ch. 4

Week 5 Domestic Enforcement

Hannum ch. 6

Week 6 UN HR Enforcement

Hannum ch. 7

Week 7 HR law applicability to non-state actors – development

Hannum ch. 5
Jamar, A Social Justice Perspective on the Role of Copyright in Realizing International Human Rights, 25 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Development L.J. 289 (2012) Available at SSRN:
Jamar & Mtima, Fulfilling the Copyright Social Justice Promise: Digitizing Textual Information, 55 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 77-108 (2010) (reprinted in The Computer and Internet Lawyer Journal, (Sept. 2012) Available at SSRN:

Week 8 Sanctions and Armed Intervention to enforce HR

Hannum ch. 10

Week 9 To be determined -- probably European System and Freedom of Religion

Hannum ch. 8
Jamar, The Human Right of Access to Legal Information: Using Technology To Advance Transparency and the Rule of Law, 1 Global Jurist Topics no. 2 art. 6, 1-14 (2001) abstract and full text also available at SSRN:

Weeks 10-13 Student paper presentations

The exact order of topics and indeed the topics themselves will depend on current events, student paper topic proposals, time available, and interests of the professor and students.

Wrap up/Reflection