Monday, June 25, 2007

Course Syllabus


Instructor Stan Starygin

SEMESTER: Summer 2007 Class: Morning +Evening

CREDIT: 3 Units

LENGTH: 48 hours


Some of the objectives of this course are as follows –

• Familiarize the students with the core set of human rights concepts and their historical and substantive development
• Introduce the historical context which resulted in or facilitated the development of human rights in particular countries
• Introduce a balanced outlook upon the development of rights in the Euro-American context and the Southeast Asian context; show the similarities and differences of this development and the influence of politics and religion upon this development
• Focus on a thorough study of select international human rights instruments and the political environments that resulted in their creation
• Focus on the most recent rights-related court decisions in the region (Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand)
• Instruct the students on rights-related research methodology, review essay writing and citation standards
• Provide an online environment and facilitate online peer review and connectivity with human rights students and faculty in the region and those who are interested in such in the region
• Bring local and international human rights experts as guest speakers and online reviewers


This course was designed to give students a comprehensive history-liked picture of the development of the core concepts of human rights as we know them today and the political environments which produced them. The material of the course heavily emphasizes the study of the principal legal instruments which undergird human rights internationally. The material of the course was also designed in a way that should provide students with reflections on the implementation of human rights instruments in Southeast Asia (SEA) accentuating the differences of the approach to the implementation of such by the various states of SEA. The latter will be achieved through the study of relevant case-law of select countries and through the online interaction with students and faculty of other countries of SEA. The course will end in a term paper which is the most important component of the instruction and for which students are expected to spend two months on research, writing and finalizing.


Week Topics Hours Materials
(all material for which page numbering is provided below are a part of the reader)

1. Introductory lecture + the Code of Hammurabi 4 1-23
2. The Code of Hammurabi + Magna Carta 4 24-47
3. Magna Carta and development of rights in the Middle Ages 4 131-148; 149-157
4. Buddhism and Human Rights: Mahayana Buddhism and its treatment of rights 4 48-62; 101-115
5. Buddhism and Human Rights: Theravada Buddhism 4 63-99; 118-130
6. Development of Modern (Post World War 2) Human Rights Instruments: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and its political context 4 158-162
7. Hard law: United Nations (UN) Rights Covenants: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); ICCPR’s two Optional Protocols 4 163-177;
Optional Protocols: 178-183
8. Hard law: Derogation from the ICCPR: the Siracusa Principles; Limitation Clauses 4 192-193;
Limitation Clauses: 194-202
9. Hard law: United Nations (UN) Rights Covenants: International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 4 184-191
10. UN Principles on the Treatment of Prisoners; UN Convention Against Torture 4 214-223;
CAT: 224-232
11. Cultural Relativism: the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam; Malaysian case-law: Lina Joy v. Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan 4 239-242; 243-245
Lina Joy: 294-350
12. Human Rights in Cambodia: The 2007 Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Human Rights Report of the United States Department of State (USDS) 4 Lectures

METHODS OF TEACHING: Lecture/ guest speakers, Group Discussion, Case studies, Presentation of assignment/ readings/ research


(1) Attendance & Participation (40 %):


Technically, attendance is optional, as there is no specific grade value assigned to it. However, since there is value assigned to participation, this value cannot be attained by a student without participating in real space (class meetings) and virtual space (by contributing to the discussions on the blog dedicated to this course). Students who miss class remain to be responsible for the material discussed in the session they miss and the material assigned to the next session. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that students contact their classmates and visit the blog in case they are unable to attend the class meeting on a particular day.


The high value placed in this course on participation is due to the course design which comprises standard classroom participation coupled with a large online interaction component. Active and consistent participation in both is necessary for obtaining the full value assigned for participation in this course. Necessary instructor and peer assistance will be arranged for those students who require and solicit help with Information Technology (IT). The blog technology selected is uncomplicated and fairly straightforward and calibrated to an average Internet user.

Participation in the classroom context is understood as volunteering to contribute to classroom discussion and offer personal insights into the material under discussion. Participation in the blog context is understood as contributing to the discussions on the topics outlined on the blog (see Tentative Topics at and reviewing other students’ topic statements and papers (peer review). The latter is by far the most important component of online interaction as per the design of this course.

(2) In-class assignments and short tests (20%):

The amount of short tests will in this course will be calibrated based on necessity, i.e. participation and preparedness of the students for particular topics. In case the level of this preparedness is low, this will merit more tests to ensure the quality of learning.

(3) Term paper (40%):

The development of the term paper will begin in the second month of the course (in a 3-month semester and in the 3-rd month in a 4-month semester). Topics for such will be suggested by the instructor and other students and will appear on the blog dedicated to this course. Students are also encouraged to come up with ideas of their own for topics. The topics chosen will undergo online peer review and subsequent instructor review which will result in their approval or recommendation of different direction for topics. Term papers will be developed gradually being subject to peer, external expert and instructor review every step of the way. Special emphasis is placed on the following of the selected citation standard (The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 13th Edition).

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