Human Rights Practice and Challenges in Southeast Asia: Issues, fieldwork, career paths

Cohen, D. (PI)
Section Number
This course aims to address student interest in the practice of human rights both from the individual perspective, particularly regarding a variety of professional career paths, as well as from institutional perspectives. Courses that focus on particular human rights issues or on the broad international legal framework of human rights are core components of a human rights curriculum. This course, on the other hand, is regionally focused, practice-oriented, and addresses the ways in which human rights initiatives and projects are designed, developed, funded, implemented, and evaluated by the various actors and institutions that make up the complex landscape of human rights work. We will have several guest speakers who have successfully followed different career paths in the UN, NGOs, academia, philanthropy, and development. They also reflect engagement in a number of key areas of human rights practice: gender based violence and gender discrimination; statelessness; freedom of religion and expression in an electronic age; justice sector reform and the rule of law; business and human rights; prosecution and accountability for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.nnnThe requirements for an effective practice-oriented course dictate that it be of limited geographical scope while at the same time having a regional, and to a lesser extent, a cross-regional perspective. Accordingly, the focus of this course will be on the 10 Southeast Asian nations that make up ASEAN as a region with its own legal and institutional human rights framework. We will also consider some of the ways in which ASEAN human rights issues are connected to its neighbors and, in this case, particularly to South Asia (Rohingya) and China (human trafficking and environmental issues). nnnThe course will be structured around the following 5 main segments:nn(1) Issues: Overview of human rights challenges in ASEAN: What are the most pressing issues (and to whom); how is the human rights agenda defined at the national and regional levels; how are priorities established; what are the obstacles to effective implementation of the agenda? nn(2) Players: The roles of national and regional institutions; national NGOs and human rights activists; national human rights commissions; governmental and regional bodies; international human rights organizations; the UN and its various engaged institutions (UNDP, UNODC, UNHCHR, UNHCR, Special Mandates, Human Rights Committee, etc.); national development agencies and embassies.nn(3) Initiatives and Projects: How are broad national and ASEAN human initiatives developed? How do they come to be incorporated into specific projects (research, training and capacity building, awareness raising and education, accountability, etc.)? How are such projects developed and by whom? How are they awarded, funded and implemented? What is the role of human rights philanthropy? How are such initiatives and projects evaluated? What determines the success or failure of such projects and according to whom? nn(4) Seeking accountability for human rights abuses: case studies on trafficking; gender based violence and discrimination; ethnic, religious, or political conflict and violence. nn(5) Human rights careers at the national, regional, and international levels.
Letter or Credit/No Credit
Course Tags
Contemporary Issues
Academic Year
Section Days
Start Time
1:30 PM
End Time
4:30 PM