Common Standards for a Fragmented World? Principles and Prospects of International Human Rights



Zeit/Ort n.V.:

Modul Pol MR A+B

  • Mi 10:00-12:00

Prerequisites / Organizational information

Die regelmäßige Teilnahme an allen zwei Teilen der Veranstaltung (Vorlesung, Seminar) ist für alle Studierende verpflichtend. Der Leistungsnachweis wird über die erfolgreiche Teilnahme an einer 90-minütigen Abschlussklausur erworben.
Die Anmeldung für die Veranstaltung erfolgt über studon.


Human rights are rights held by all human beings equally. They claim universal validity across national, regional and cultural boundaries. Without the aspiration of universalism, the very concept of human rights would cease to make any sense. In retrospect, however, it seems obvious that the historical human rights declarations, starting from the Virginia Bill of Rights (1776), have always displayed aspects of particularism. While headlines, such as "rights of man” or "droits de l’homme” betray an androcentric bias, experiences of people from lower social strata, persons with disabilities, religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and others may have had merely limited, if any, impact on the formulation of human rights declarations. Moreover, the very idea of human rights has attracted objections that it one-sidedly reflects a European worldview or a Western way of life, which allegedly fail to meet the demands of people from other parts of the world. Do we have to conclude that the aspiration of universal human rights is but an empty illusion?
Before tackling that central question, we have to define the claims of human rights and their inherent limitations. Subsequently, we will deal with the "textbook version” of the genesis of human rights in comparison to more critical, innovative readings of their historical development. We will analyse the relationship between individual rights and communitarian solidarity and explore the specific "secularity” of human rights claims as opposed to notions of divine rights. Another subject of investigation will be the interrelatedness of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. A question that has found increasing attention is how freedom of religion or belief can be reconciled with claims of gender-equality or the emancipation of sexual minorities. The lecture will furthermore explore possible tensions between human rights and democracy. If there is any time left towards the end, we might also deal with controversial ideas of an evolutionary self-transcendence of humanity towards a "post-humanist” stadium and possible dangers arising from such futuristic visions.
The lecture series belongs to the mandatory module "human rights” within the Masters programme "Political Science”. It is also part of the "Human Rights Master” syllabus. Students will have access to background material through "StudOn”.

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Common Standards for a Fragmented World? Principles and Prospects of International Human Rights