COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course examines the nature, practice, and limits of human rights in today's global world.

Though nearly all nations have pledged to abide by the Charter of the United Nations to promote and safeguard human rights and in spite of the emerging global human-rights culture, the idea of human rights is a hotly contested and polarized concept in the world today. This raises the question whether the claim of universal human rights is an empty rhetoric or whether the differences in interpretation and enforcement across nations and cultures are understandable practical problems in the application of rights.

In deciding these questions, the course investigates global realities of politics, law, and culture related to human rights as well as the normative foundations of rights. Through an examination of key topics of current relevance—justice, democracy, poverty and affluence, and war and peace—with contrasting views of the leading theorists, the course addresses the important public and political issues of human rights in today's divided world.