Judicial independence and the protection of human rights

1 Ots 2021 -tik 12 Ots 2021 -ra

In 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders warned that ‘the space for civil society and defenders visibly shrink in certain regions of the world’, adding that ‘more sophisticated forms of silencing their voices’ take place, including ‘the misuse of the judicial system to criminalize and stigmatize their activities’. Against this background, this course will introduce students to the increasing politicisation of judges and its impact on the protection of human rights. The course is designed for students who are interested in the interplay of human rights, judicial systems and politics.

The course will begin with an introduction to the international system of human rights law. As part of this introduction, the course will explore the judicial, quasi- and non-judicial mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights at international and regional levels. The second part of this course will look at the profession of judge in theory and practice: the rules governing the profession and the role of judges to protect human rights. Students will be introduced to the factors that determine the level of independence of a judicial system. They will also learn about the use of global indicators, which became powerful tools for policy makers worldwide to measure judicial systems. The last part of this course will familiarise students with some current debates, such as the role of international organisations to fight political backlashes to judicial independence.

Students will be expected to prepare for all classes, reading all assigned material, holding presentations and taking an active part in discussion. A moot court will be held towards the end of the course. Students will be expected to submit a 5000-word essay on a topic within the syllabus to be defined with the help of the professor