Human Rights in World Affairs (IR 489)

2023 Fall
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
International Relations(IR)
Oya Yeğen,
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SPS101 SPS102
Interactive lecture
Discussion based learning
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This course introduces students to the foundations of human rights theory and practice. The course analyzes what constitutes as human rights (political, economic, social, and cultural rights) and examines contemporary issues around the globe. The course will also offer a critical analysis of international human rights norms and its enforcement by focusing on major international institutions and the documents that govern the human rights regime as well as the role of states, individuals, NGOs and the media.


The aim of the course is to introduce to students what constitutes as human rights and to offer a critical analysis of international human rights norms and its enforcement by focusing on major international institutions and the documents that govern the human rights regime as well as the role of states, individuals, NGOs and other human rights networks.


  • Understand the development of the concept of human rights and discuss the various critiques of this concept.
  • Define and identify human rights and critically evaluate their implementation in world affairs.
  • Identify the relevant the international human rights treaties and understand how the human rights regime works.
  • Analyze and understand the strengths and weaknesses of mechanisms to promote and protect human rights by individuals, non-governmental organizations, states, and international organizations and others.
  • Critically think about different human rights problems in different countries by focusing on case studies.
  • Apply theoretical knowledge and develop writing and communication skills.


1. Understand the world, their country, their society, as well as themselves and have awareness of ethical problems, social rights, values and responsibility to the self and to others. 5

2. Understand different disciplines from natural and social sciences to mathematics and art, and develop interdisciplinary approaches in thinking and practice. 3

3. Think critically, follow innovations and developments in science and technology, demonstrate personal and organizational entrepreneurship and engage in life-long learning in various subjects; have the ability to continue to educate him/herself. 3

4. Communicate effectively in Turkish and English by oral, written, graphical and technological means. 5

5. Take individual and team responsibility, function effectively and respectively as an individual and a member or a leader of a team; and have the skills to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. 3

1. Develop knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in humanities and social sciences. 4

2. Assess how global, national and regional developments affect society. 5

3. Know how to access and evaluate data from various sources of information. 4

1. Analyze global affairs from international relations and economics perspectives. 5

2. Demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge of the international affairs. 5

3. Compete for increasing opportunities in careers within the newly emerging global institutions. 4

4. Evaluate the international political events and present their views and positions on international affairs with advanced oral and written skills. 5

1. To analyze national and global events from various social science perspectives. 5

2. To demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge on political science and international relations and to state views and positions with advanced oral and written skills. 5

3. To compete for increasing career opportunities in national and global institutions. 4

4. To (be able to) understand and follow the changes in political behaviours, opinions and structures. 4

5. To gain the ability to make logical inferences on social and political issues based on comparative and historical knowledge. 5

1. Understand and follow changes in patterns of political behavior, ideas and structures. 5

2. Develop the ability to make logical inferences about social and political issues on the basis of comparative and historical knowledge. 5


  Percentage (%)
Final 30
Midterm 20
Assignment 30
Participation 20



Samuel Moyn, 2018. How the Human Rights Movement Failed, April 23, available at

Todd Landman, 2002. ?Comparative Politics and Human Rights?, Human Rights Quarterly 24 , 890?923.

Jack Donnelly, International Human Rights, Routhledge, 2017, Ch. 2.

Paul Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights, 3rd ed. Ch. 1 and 2.

Samuel Moyn, 2010. The last Utopia? Human Rights in History. Cambridge: HUP. Ch. 2

Jack Donnelly, 2013. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, 3rd ed, Cornell University Press Ch. 6 and 7.

Bronwyn Leebaw. 2007. ?The Politics of Impartial Activism: Humanitarianism and Human Rights?, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 5, No. 2

Altan-Olcay, Özlem and Bertil Emrah Oder. 2021. ?Why Turkey?s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is a global problem?, June 2,

Eric Posner. 2014. ?The Case Against Human Rights?, the Guardian, December 4, available at

Stephen Krasner, 1999. Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy, Princeton, Ch. 4.

Emilie Hafner-Burton, 2013. Making Human Rights a Reality, Ch. 4 and 5.

Beth Simmons, 2009. Mobilizing for Human Rights, International Law in Domestic Politics, Ch. 3 and 4.

Jean Grugel, Enrique Peruzzotti, 2012. ?The Domestic Politics of International Human Rights Law: Implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina,? Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 34, Number 1, February, pp. 178-19.

Emilie Hafner-Burton, 2013. Making Human Rights a Reality, Princeton University Press, pp. 19-41.

Emily Hencken Ritter and Christian Davenport, 2021. ?An Illustrated Glossary of Political Violence? Jan. 18.

Celso Perez and Muneer I. Ahmad. Why the UN Should Take Responsibility for Haiti's Cholera Outbreak?, the Atlantic, August 16, 2013 available at

Magnus Lundgren, Kseniya Oksamytna, and Vincenzo Bove (2022) ?Are UN Peacekeeping Leaders Held to Account??, Political Violence at a Glance.

Wendy H. Wong. 2021. ?As a global infrastructure giant, Facebook must uphold human rights?. The Conversation, November 7.

Emilie Hafner-Burton, Making Human Rights a Reality (Princeton University Press, 2013), Ch. 8.

Dursun Peksen, ?Better or Worse? The Effect of Economic Sanctions on Human Rights? Journal of Peace Research, vol. 46, no. 1, 2009, pp. 59?77.

Mattia Pinto. 2020. ?Historical Trends of Human Rights Gone Criminal,? Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 42, Number 4, November 2020, pp. 729-761.

Kathryn Sikkink and Kim, Hun Joon, ?The Justice Cascade: The Origins and Effectiveness of Prosecutions of Human Rights Violations? (November 2013). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 9, pp. 269-285, 2013.

David Bosco Why is the International Criminal Court picking only on Africa?? The Washington Post, May 29, 2013 available at

Alan J. Kuperman, The Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the Balkans,? International Studies Quarterly (2008) 52, 49?80.

Benjamin A Valentino, The True Costs of Humanitarian Intervention: The Hard Truth About a Noble Notion,? Foreign Affairs ; New York Vol. 90, Issue 6, (Nov/Dec 2011): 60-73.

James H. Lebovic and Erik Voeten. 2006. The Politics of Shame: The Condemnation of Country Human Rights Practices in the UNCHR? International Studies Quarterly, 50, 861?888. (Skim)

Jack Snyder. 2019. Backlash against human rights shaming: emotions in groups?, International Theory.

Emilie Hafner-Burton, Trading Human Rights: How Preferential Trade Agreements Influence Government Repression,? International Organization (2005), 59: 593- 629.

Clifford Bob. 2002. Merchants of Morality? Foreign Policy 129: 36-45.

Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Ch.1.

Emilie Hafner-Burton, Making Human Rights a Reality (Princeton University Press, 2013), Ch. 9.

Oona Hathaway, Preston Lim and Mark Stevens. 2020. ?COVID-19 and International Law Series: Human Rights Law ? Right to Life?, Just Security, Nov. 18.

Wendy H. Wong & Eileen A. Wong. 2020. What COVID-19 revealed about health, human rights, and the WHO, Journal of Human Rights?, Vol. 19, Iss. 5, pp. 568-581.

David Rieff. 1999. The Precarious Triumph of Human Rights?, New York Times Magazine, available at

Ingrid Wuerth. 2019. A Post-Human Rights Era? A Reappraisal and a Response to Critics,? March 22,

Jeff Sebo. 2018 Should Chimpanzees Be Considered Persons?? the New York Times, April 7, available at

Optional Readings

Todd Landman, 2004. ?Measuring Human Rights: Principle, Practice, and Policy? Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 26, Number 4, pp. 906-931. (G)

Emilie M Hafner-Burton, ?A social science of human rights?, Journal of Peace Research 2014, Vol. 51(2) 273?286. (G)

Wade M. Cole. 2012. ?Human Rights as Myth and Ceremony? Reevaluating the Effectiveness of Human Rights Treaties, 1981?2007? American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 117, No. 4 (January), pp. 1131-1171 (G)

Wayne Sandholtz (2017). ?Domestic law and human rights treaty commitments: The Convention against Torture?, Journal of Human Rights, 16:1, 25-43. (G)

Bueno de Mesquita, B, GW Downs, A Smith & FM Cherif, 2005. ?Thinking Inside the Box: A Closer Look at Democracy and Human Rights,? International Studies Quarterly, 49(3): 439-458. (G)

James R. Vreeland. 2008. ?Political Institutions and Human Rights: Why Dictatorships Enter into the United Nations Convention Against Torture.? International Organization, 62, 01, pp. 65- 101. (G)

Yonatan Lupu. 2013. ?Best Evidence: The Role of Information in Domestic Judicial Enforcement of International Human Rights Agreements?. International Organization Vol. 67, Issue 3, pp. 469?503. (G)

Sabine Carey. 2010. ?The Use of Repression as a Response to Domestic Dissent.? Political Studies 58: 167-186. (G)

Mauricio Rivera. 2017. ?Authoritarian Institutions and State Repression: The Divergent Effects of Legislatures and Opposition Parties on Personal Integrity Rights? Journal of Conflict Resolution Vol. 61(10) 2183-2207. (G)

Leigh A. Payne and Gabriel Pereira, ?Corporate Complicity in International Human Rights Violations,? Annual Review of Law and Social Science. 2016. 12:63?84. (G)

Reed M. Wood, ?A Hand upon the Throat of the Nation?: Economic Sanctions and State Repression, 1976?2001? International Studies Quarterly, Volume 52, Issue 3, 1 September 2008, pp. 489?513. (G)

Richard A. Nielsen. 2013. ?Rewarding Human Rights? Selective Aid Sanctions against Repressive States?. International Studies Quarterly. Vol. 57, pp. 791?803 (G)

Michelle Giacobbe Allendoerfer. 2017. ?Who cares about human rights? Public opinion about human rights foreign policy?, Journal of Human Rights, 16:4, 428-451. (G)

Beth Simmons & Allison Danner (2010) ?Credible Commitments and the International Criminal Court,? International Organization, Vol. 64, No. 2 (Spring 2010), pp. 225-256. (G)

James D. Meernik, Angela Nichols, and Kimi L. King. 2010.?The Impact of International Tribunals and Domestic Trials on Peace and Human Rights After Civil War? International Studies Perspectives, Vol. 11, 309?334. (G)

Dursun Peksen 2012. ``Does Foreign Military Intervention Help Human Rights??? Political Research Quarterly 65 (3):558?71. (G)

Amanda M. Murdie and David R. Davis. 2010. ?Problematic Potential: The Human Rights Consequences of Peacekeeping Interventions in Civil Wars?. Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 32, Number 1, pp. 49-72. (G)

Amanda M. Murdie and David R. Davis, ?Shaming and Blaming: Using Events Data to Assess the Impact of Human Rights INGOs,? International Studies Quarterly (2012) 56, 1?16. (G)

Rochelle Terman and Joshua Byun. 2022. ?Punishment and Politicization in the International Human Rights Regime? American Political Science Review, Volume 116, Issue 2, pp. 385 ? 402. (G)

Thrall, A. Trevor, Dominik Stecula, and Diane Sweet. 2014. ?May We Have Your Attention Please? Human-Rights NGOs and the Problem of Global Communication?, The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 19 (2), 135-159. (G)

Sarah S Stroup, and Amanda Murdie. 2012. ?There's no place like home: Explaining international NGO advocacy,? The Review of International Organizations; Dordrecht Vol. 7, Iss. 4, pp. 425-448. (G)

Eric Neumayer. 2013. ?Do governments mean business when they derogate? Human rights violations during notified states of emergency?. The Review of International Organizations. Volume 8, pages 1?31. (G)

Emilie M. Hafner-Burton and James Ron, ?Seeing Double Human Rights Impact through Qualitative and Quantitative Eyes?, World Politics 61, no. 2 (April 2009), 360?401. (G)