International Human Rights

General Information

The course generally takes place every Wednesday from 10:15 to 12:00 (2 hours per week) in room RAI-J-031, exceptions are outlined in the syllabus below. The course will provide an overview of the current international human rights regime, which will be complemented by a second part focusing on the existing and emerging rules on corporate responsibility of multinational enterprises. After an introduction covering the basic mechanisms of human rights protection we will discuss the role of non-state actors and – in more detail – multinational corporations. The course will also address current human rights issues. A more detailed overview of the course content can be found in the programme (PDF, 342 KB).

All participants are required to prepare for class and read the assigned papers in advance. Please note that the average reading load is approx. 50-100 pages per week and that the general reading assignments in the programme below are subject to change throughout the semester.

Course material

The course is partially based on the following books:

  • for human rights in general: Daniel Moeckli/Sangeeta Shah/Sandesh Sivakumaran (eds.), International Human Rights Law, Second edition, Oxford 2014
  • for business and human rights specifically: John Ruggie, Just Business – Multinational Corporations and Human Rights, New York/London 2013; Dorothée Baumann-Pauly/Justine Nolan (eds.), Business and Human Rights – From Principles to Practice, London/New York 2016
  • for the legal sources we recommend Blackstone’s International Human Rights Documents collected by Alison Bisset, 10th Edition, Oxford 2016.

Participants without a law background may find Andrew Clapham, Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction, second edition, Oxford 2015 helpful

Reading material for specific topics and the slides will be uploaded on the internet-based platform moodle:

  1. Click on "Login" on the top right corner of the website.
  2. Choose "Universität Zürich" from the drop down list.
  3. Log in with your UZH-Account (UZH-Shortname and password).
  4. Click on "UZH" within the course categories menu.
  5. Pick "International Human Rights 2017" from the UZH list and enroll in the course using the password, which will be communicated in the first lecture.

Please find the slides for the first lecture here:Introduction (PDF, 545 KB)


An exam will take place at the end of the term. More detailed information will be given at the beginning of the course.