International Law and Human Rights (Fall 2016) | Samuel Moyn | June 28, 2016

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International Law and Human Rights (Fall 2016)

by Samuel Moyn Show/Hide
This course is a survey of contemporary human rights law and politics. A consistent focus is how the United States relates to the international human rights system. The course also takes up the ways in which both the international system and the rights jurisprudence of other countries might differ from approaches in American law, as for example in regional protection, the regulation of religious practice, or socioeconomic rights adjudication. EDIT PLAYLIST INFORMATION DELETE PLAYLIST

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    1. 1.1 Show/Hide More Case Study: The Right to Life
      Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
      In this first case study, we will be exposed to many things in advance of learning about them systematically, such as the structure of human rights enforcement and the process of evaluating claims in the Human Rights Committee (which, as we will learn later, monitors a treaty called the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). You can simply register the importance of knowing these things later, but bypass them for now, in order to focus on the topic of this case study: what is a right in general, and what is the right to life in particular?
      1. 1.1.3 Show/Hide More Human Rights Committee (HRC), Pedro Pablo Camargo v. Colombia, Communication No. 45/1979, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/OP/1 (1985)
        Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
        Your main focus in reading this document is twofold. First, what happened? Second, what is a right (specifically, the right to life), such that the state might have violated it? Of less importance is the great deal of procedural detail — you can skim the parts of the decision that spell out what happened to the complaint (though we will still cover it to get an early sense of what kinds of processes human rights law can prompt).
      2. 1.1.4 Show/Hide More Human Rights Committee: Ms. Yekaterina Pavlovna Lantsova v. The Russian Federation, Communication No. 763/1997
        Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
        Again, your main inquiry in reading this case is to think about what the scope of the right to life is, and more generally what a right is – how do we think about its content and what effects invoking seem to have.
      3. 1.1.5 Show/Hide More Supreme Court of India, Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, AIR 1986 Supreme Court 18 (1985), excerpt
        Similarly, in this case (in a national constitutional court) we are interested in the substance and scope of the right to life, and more generally how best to think about what a human right is.
    2. 1.2 Show/Hide More What Are Human Rights and Where Do They Come From?
      Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
      Our goal in the readings in this section is to think about how to defend (or oppose) the idea that individuals have rights in virtue of their humanity. After reading an excerpt from John Locke, we turn to a description of how philosophers  today have argued with one another about the foundations of human rights. You should not try to master this material or even read it carefully. As the syllabus says, we are only looking at the first and third parts of the essay in any case. As you read, you should think about how (if at all) it might be relevant to human rights law.
      1. 1.2.1 Show/Hide More John Locke, Two Treaties of Government (1690), excerpts
        Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
        John Locke (1632-1704) was a famous English philosopher (and terrorist) commonly thought to have helped inspire the American Revolution thanks to his argument that natural rights justify violent rebellion. Our question, looking briefly at Locke, is where he thinks individual rights come from, and whether we think he is correct.
    3. 1.3 Show/Hide More Case Study: The (Extraterritorial?) Right to Privacy
      Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
      As with the right to life, the right to privacy provides us with another example of a specific right, whose content, scope, and application have to be determined. The details do not matter, so much as what contemporary debates about the right to privacy — and especially its so-called extraterritorial application — suggest about the value and limits of legal protection based on rights. In reading the materials, think not just about what content and limits the right to privacy has according to different sources, but also what political or other processes the invocation of a right unleashes.
      1. 1.3.2 Show/Hide More Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, Un Doc. ¶¶ 6-19, 28-30, 35-43, 45-52
        Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, Fourth Annual Report, UN Doc. A/69/397 (2014), ¶¶ 6-19, 28-30, 35-43, 45-52
  1. 2 Show/Hide More Unit One: International Law and U.S. Foreign Relations Law
    Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
    The goal of Unit One of the course is to step back from human rights to survey important elements of international law and U.S. foreign affairs law, to better understand the legal setting in which human rights can be claimed and enforced.
      1. 2.2.2 Show/Hide More Permanent Court of International Justice, S.S. Lotus (France v. Turkey), 1927 PCIJ (Ser. A) No. 10 (1927), excerpt
        [The Lotus, a French ship, hit the Boz-Kourt, a Turkish ship, which sank, causing the death of eight Turkish nationals. After arrival at Istanbul, the Turkish government charged the Lieutenant Demons, the French officer on watch when the collision occurred, with crimes.]
      2. 2.2.3 Show/Hide More ICJ, Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (1996), excerpt
        [The United Nations General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons is in any circumstance permitted under international law.]
      1. 2.3.3 Show/Hide More Medellin v. Texas
        Original Creator: Samuel Moyn
        Be sure to view the footnotes that have remained un-elided.
      1. 2.8.2 Show/Hide More ECtHR, Bankovic v. Belgium, Grand Chamber, App. No. 52207/99 (2001), excerpt
        [The applicants were citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia who either were injured or lost family members as a result of a NATO missile strike against the Serbian Radio and Television buildings in Belgrade in 1999. The application was brought against European states that were members of NATO, and alleged violations of the European human rights convention, although Serbia had not yet become a member of the Council of Europe, and so was not eligible to ratify the Convention. The respondent governments argued that the applicants were not covered by the Convention, because Article 1 required states parties to secure rights and freedoms only “to everyone within their jurisdiction.”]
      2. 2.8.3 Show/Hide More ECtHR, Al-Skeini v. United Kingdom, Grand Chamber, App. No. 55721/07 (2011), excerpt
        [The case involved six Iraqi civilians killed in Basrah during the British military occupation in 2003. Some were allegedly killed by British troops on patrol; one may have died in cross-fire between British troops and insurgents; and one was arrested and died as a result of abuse in custody on a British military base in Basrah. Their relatives challenged the adequacy of the investigations of their deaths by the British military authorities under Article 2 of the European Convention. The House of Lords had held that only the victim who died in custody had been within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom for purposes of the European Convention.]
      3. 2.8.4 Show/Hide More ECtHR, Bankovic v. Belgium, Grand Chamber, App. No. 52207/99 (2001), excerpt
        [The applicants were citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia who either were injured or lost family members as a result of a NATO missile strike against the Serbian Radio and Television buildings in Belgrade in 1999. The application was brought against European states that were members of NATO, and alleged violations of the European human rights convention, although Serbia had not yet become a member of the Council of Europe, and so was not eligible to ratify the Convention. The respondent governments argued that the applicants were not covered by the Convention, because Article 1 required states parties to secure rights and freedoms only “to everyone within their jurisdiction.”]
      1. 3.1.2 Show/Hide More ICJ, Nicaragua v. United States, 1986 ICJ (1986), excerpt- part 1
        [During the Cold War the United States repeatedly intervened in Latin America, not to mention many other places, directly and by proxy (i.e., arming and training local actors, including paramilitary insurgents). In 1984, Nicaragua asked the ICJ to rule America’s assistance to the so-called contras illegal under international law, as a violation of Art. 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. The United States claimed its intervention was legal as an act of collective self-defense of neighboring countries. Eventually the United States withdrew from the case after losing in an early phase of the case; and, because of the nature of its own jurisdiction, the court could no longer rule directly on whether the United States had violated the Charter use of force rules. The court nonetheless resolved to rule on whether the United States had violated customary principles of the use of force, observing that the UN Charter rules “correspond, in essentials to those found in customary international law.” We are interested in the court’s analysis of Arts. 2(4) and 51, as mirroring the customary principles it was still empowered to interpret.]
      2. 3.1.3 Show/Hide More Daniel Webster, The Caroline Standard (1842)
        [In 1837, Canadian insurgents against the British empire took flight, and American confederates armed them, using the S.S. Caroline. Men loyal to the British crown seized the ship and destroyed it. Some of the insurgents and their confederates struck back, destroying a British ship while it was docked. In both instances state borders were crossed. In 1842, U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster made peace with the British, and in the course of negotiating agreed to what is now a famous norm of customary law norm concerning when self-defense allows anticipatory action against prospective armed attack.]
      1. 3.4.1 Show/Hide More Gareth Evans, “The Responsibility to Protect after Libya and Syria” (2012)
        Address by Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, Co-Chair, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, to Annual Castan Centre for Human Rights Law Conference, Melbourne, 20 July 2012
      1. 3.5.2 Show/Hide More Janina Dill, “Applying the Principle of Proportionality in Combat Operations” (2010)
        [International humanitarian law dictates that collateral damage (civilian death included) of lawful attacks not outweigh anticipated military advantage.]
      1. 3.6.4 Show/Hide More Naz Modirzadeh, “A Reply to Marty Lederman,” Lawfare, October 3, 2014, excerpts
        full post: https://www.lawfareblog.com/reply-marty-lederman
      1. 4.3.5 Show/Hide More Report by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Belarus, UN Doc. A/HRC/29/43 (2015)
        Read this OR the Report on Enjoyment of All Human RIghts by Older Persons
      2. 4.3.6 Show/Hide More Report by the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons, UN Doc. A/HRC/27/46 (2014)
        Report by the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons, UN Doc. A/HRC/27/46 (2014)
      1. 4.4.6 Show/Hide More HRC, Bleier v. Uruguay, Comm. No. 30/1978, UN Doc. A/37/40 (1982)
        [As you read, the Optional Protocol allows individual complaints against ratifying states, and a quasi-judicial hearing by the Human Rights Committee. Though the “verdicts” are not legally binding, they are sent to “the State Party concerned and to the individual” (Optional Protocol, Art. 5(4)).]
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August 24, 2016

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Samuel Moyn

Harvard Law School

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