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LL.M. Curriculum

The Master of Laws in Intercultural Human Rights degree program is completed in 24 credits over two semesters, and offers a wide variety of courses for students to choose from. Nineteen of the 24 credits required for the LL.M. degree are required credits. In addition, students choose two seminar credits and three additional elective credits from a variety of international and comparative law courses, as well as other pertinent courses offered in the J.D. curriculum as recognized by the Director of the LL.M. Program. These courses include seminars such as The Rule of Law, International Law in the 21st Century, Natural Law, Comparative Law, Poverty Law and Economic Justice, Cybersecurity Law, Legal Storytelling, Sexual Identity and the Law, Canon Law, and Women and the Law, as well as courses such as Human Trafficking Law, Immigration Law, Family Law, Elder Law, Election Law, Health and Human Rights, Law and Literature, Law and Biomedicine, and Jurisprudence. The required courses are offered according to the current LL.M. course schedule. Students should review the law school course schedule to determine the seminars and elective courses currently offered.

LL.M. Courses

International Law
LLM 700 - 3 Credits
This course offers a study of the role of authority in the decision-making processes of the world community, including both the basic constitutive process by which international law is made and applied and the public order established. Consideration is given to formal prescription and effective practice with respect to the participants in such processes (nation-states, international governmental organizations, multinational enterprises, and other private associations and individuals), arenas of interaction, bases of power (control over people, resources and institutions), practices, outcomes and effects. The principal emphasis is on the many roles of the nation-state.
Introduction to Human Rights Law
LLM 419 - 1 Credit
This introductory course on the International Law of Human Rights will provide an overview of the standards, structures, and procedures designed to effectuate the international protection of human rights. It introduces the concept of legal protection of human rights, its history, foundation, and its contemporary meaning within the realm of international law. The course primarily addresses the sources and processes of making international human rights law, encompassing universal and regional legal systems of human rights protection. The course will also analyze pragmatic approaches to deal with human rights violations; the distinction between United Nations treaty bodies entrusted with monitoring and enforcing human rights obligations under various conventions, and United Nations Charter bodies, including the Human Rights Council, addressing the promotion, implementation and enforcement of human rights. An overview will be given of international criminal law, humanitarian law and their crossroads with the international law of human rights as well as the roles played by nation-state governments, non-governmental organizations and individual actors.
Human Rights and Religion
LLM 401 - 1 Credit
This course will explore the parameters of the essential norms of religious human rights — liberty of conscience, religious pluralism and equality, free exercise of religion, nondiscrimination on religious grounds, and autonomy for religious groups. Individual religious rights include the right to change one's religion, to proselytize, and to reject one's religion; allied rights include freedom of speech, association, and travel. While these are civil and political in nature, the rights of religious minorities are social, cultural, and possibly economic. These norms will be explored from various religious and non-religious perspectives with a view to understanding groups in the formation and protection of cultural heritage.
The Protection of Refugees
LLM 414 - 1 Credit
This course will start with an introduction to the concept of international protection of refugees and an examination of the various international attempts since 1921 to meet the problem of the forced movements of people due to persecution or armed conflict. This will be followed by an introduction to the basics of international refugee law, including the gaps in this body of law. This will in turn lead to a comparative study of the refugee definitions as a basis for the determination of refugee status, the issue of the safe third country and the problem of responsibility for determining asylum claim, and other contentious issues relating to refugee status determination.

Other themes will include: the mandate of work and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; refugee protection and human rights; asylum; non-refoulement under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugee under general human rights law; temporary or time-limited protection and "subsidiary protection"; refugee detention and freedom of movement; refugee protection in armed conflict and complex emergencies; security of refugee camps and settlements; the protection of refugee women and the problem of sexual violence against refugees; the protection of refugee children; the developing law of internally displaced persons; the solutions to the refugee problem; the challenge of repatriation; and the future of international protection.
Ethical Moorings: Philosophical and Religious Foundations of Human Rights
LLM 420 - 1 Credit
This course explores the religious and philosophical roots of the development of human rights, ranging from natural law in the Aristotelian, Thomist and Kantian tradition to more pragmatic philosophies designed to bring about a public order of human dignity.
The Covenant on Civil & Political Rights: the Scope of the Rights and the Role of the Human Rights Committee
LLM 408 - 1 Credit
The civil and political rights as protected under the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights form the core of human rights protection on the international plane. The course seeks to demonstrate how this goal may be achieved. Starting from the normative framework and its development after the adoption of the Universal declaration of Human Rights the scope of the Covenant rights as well as the duties of the States parties will be discussed. The monitoring role of the Human Rights Committee as major element in the implementation process will be closely examined. The seminar will specifically focus on e State reporting system and the individual complaint procedure by carefully selected case studies. In conclusion, the legal consequences of violations of rights protected by the Covenant will be discussed.
Human Rights and Terrorism
LLM 416 - 1 Credit
This course seeks to explore and critically analyze the continuum of terror violence, its goals, its means, its perpetrators, and its intersection with all aspects of human rights. It will begin with a history of the phenomenon of terrorism, the rise of the human rights idea and the interrelationship between the two. Before, but especially after September 11, 2001, legal systems both domestic and international have responded to the unprecedented assault with a concerted global effort. This course will closely scrutinize the international legal issues arising in this context.
Human Rights Lawyering
LLM 423 - 1 Credit
The purpose of this class is to introduce students to the assessment and analysis of a given human rights situation and the employment of human rights advocacy via hands-on instruction in the representation of victims of human rights abuses, the litigation of pertinent issues, and the public advocacy, using old and new media, in the articulation and propagation of key human rights concerns. Emphasis will be placed on client relationships, strategy building and an overview of useful tools in the practice of human rights lawyering.
Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
LLM 414 - 1 Credit
In contrast to civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) have historically been viewed as non-justiciable programmatic goals to be achieved progressively within available resources, rather than justiciable rights of immediate application. This one-week intensive course seeks to provide the legal and analytical tools to understand why this distinction is false and how tit may be overcome. The course will consider the international normative framework for the legal protection of ESCR, the content of state obligations under ESCR treaties, how the international ESCR monitoring system functions, and the various obstacles and opportunities currently facing ESCR justiciability. The course will examine cutting-edge strategies for ESCR enforcement in the legal and political spheres as well as case studies on the right to food, the right to health, the right to housing, and workers' rights. It will conclude with an analysis of the procedures for bringing complaints based on ESCR violations before international human rights bodies. This is a strategy-based course, focusing on pragmatic approaches to promoting ESCR justiciability as undertaken around the world.
International Criminal Law
LLM 404 - 1 Credit
This course will examine selected topics and current issues in international criminal law: that is, the international aspects of criminal law and the criminal law as it bears upon international law. Accordingly, the course will treat the jurisdictional elements of domestic and international law over international criminal activities; the implications of international cooperation in criminal matters, such as extradition and mutual legal assistance; the extent to which the United States' constitutional safeguards apply to law enforcement practices overseas; the substance of multilateral treaties involving war crimes and terrorism; the creation of International War Crimes Tribunals and their impact; and the international law questions posed by the granting of amnesty to war criminals.
Regional Systems of Human Rights Protection
LLM 421 - 3 Credits
This course will provide students with an introduction to the substantive norms of human rights in the inter-American, European, and African systems of human rights protection, the main theoretical issues concerning the nature and scope of rights that appear in conventional instruments, and the diverse procedures available at the regional level for defense and protection of human rights. The course is broken down into three main sections:

  1. The Inter-American System of Human Rights Protection
    This part of the course will provide students with an introduction to the substantive norms of human rights in the inter-American system, the main theoretical issues concerning the nature and scope of rights that appear in conventional instruments, the diverse procedures available at the regional level for defense and protection of human rights, and the ways in which policymakers in the countries of the Western Hemisphere attempt to reconcile the demand for enforcement of human rights with the current of foreign policy objectives.
  2. The European System of Human Rights Protection
    This part of the course will give an overview of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and its procedural as well as substantive guarantees. The Convention is applied by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. In the last half-century the Court has developed its own, rich jurisprudence. Its doctrines cover the right to life, the prohibition of torture, slavery and forced labor, criminal procedure and the principle of legality, privacy and family law issues, freedoms of speech, of press, of assembly and association, equal protection, right to property, prohibition of death penalty, right to free elections, etc.
  3. The African System of Human Rights Protection
    The part of the course will examine the practice of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) regarding the review of individual NGOs complaints, with a case study of the implementation of the right to a fair trial, since it has developed important case law on this guarantee. The course will also deal with the development of in-site investigations and the thematic procedures, especially those relating to the mandates and work of the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions and of the Special Rapporteur on the conditions of prisons in Africa. The course will conclude with an evaluation of the work done by the ACHPR under its protective mandate and consideration on its future role in the context of the establishment of an African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights.
Human Rights and the Environment
LLM 418 - 1 Credit
This course looks at the linkages between human rights and the environment, how such linkages can assist efforts to protect both human rights and the environment, and what further collaboration between these two fields might be pursued. This includes discussion of specific human rights that implicate the environment and the cases interpreting such rights, the use of the United Nations and regional human rights systems, as well as national courts, for enforcing human rights to protect environmental interests, and how human rights may be applied directly to corporations to protect the environment. A field trip to Florida's Everglades National Park may be included as part of this course.
International Economic Law and Human Rights
LLM 405 - 1 Credit
The principal objective of this course is to analyze the process of transformation of international economic law and to assess what has been achieved in light of ever more important concerns relating to the effective protection of human rights. Special emphasis will be put on the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD, and the EU. Economic freedoms such as the freedoms of establishment, movement of persons, goods, services, and capital will be discussed, just as the content and impact of economic, social, labor as well as civil and political rights.
Women's Rights and Rights of the Child
LLM 422 - 1 Credit
This course explores issues arising from the universal and regional legal instruments designed to protect the rights of women and the rights of the child, including, but not limited to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as their various protocols.

  1. Women's Human Rights
    While human rights law has become a staple in legal discourse, women's human rights law still lacks this universal recognition. Human rights violations of women tend to be recognized only if such violations resemble those of men. Women who are tortured for their political beliefs are granted the same protections as men in the same position. However, if the abuse takes other, gender-specific forms, such as rape and forced impregnation, involves non-political, i.e. social and economic rights, or is inflicted by private rather than governmental actors, human rights protections are being disregarded. In part, this is a function of the universal subjugation of women; in part it is the function of current human rights systems which values male-identified rights, i.e. political rights, above others and focuses on abuses by government actors. Because of the general disregard of women's rights it is important to highlight the particular issues women face which involve violations of human rights. Such violations occur in the United States as well as internationally. In some cases, women are treated differently even though there is no justifiable, gender-based reason; in others, women are treated the same as men even though unequal treatment would be more appropriate; in a third group of cases women are treated unequally because of a received gender difference.
  2. Human Rights of the Child
    This part of the course will consider issues and problems affecting children in light of the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child and related protocols, its background, and its normative policy dimensions. It considers the identification of the child as the holder of certain rights, with the grant of procedural status to assert these rights in appropriate domestic judicial and administrative proceedings. It treats the substance of the Convention alongside implementation of its provisions and the guiding principles of interpretation and construction of the child's "best interests"; the "evolving capacities of the child," and equality in treatment (non-discrimination). It also addresses a variety of situations identified by the human rights community as making children especially defenseless, and discusses the child's means of international protection.
Humanitarian Law
LLM 417 - 1 Credit
This course explores issues of humanitarian law faced by professionals of war, relief workers, humanitarian organizations and others working in complex emergencies. Students will explore and analyze emerging and controversial aspects of law and policy. With the proliferation of conflicts around the globe, humanitarian organizations are being forced into new and unfamiliar territory. Increasingly, humanitarian professionals are attempting to provide relief in settings of diminished security and are grappling with the growing involvement of non-state actors - from rebel groups to private corporations to humanitarian organizations themselves - in situations of armed conflict. This course provides prospective humanitarian and human rights professionals with an opportunity to consider the relevance of international humanitarian law in the present conflict-ridden global social process.
LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights Thesis
LLM 424 - 3 Credits
In lieu of taking a three-credit elective course, students ranked among the top 20% of the class after the first semester may write a thesis specifically for the LL.M. Program on a topic of the students choosing within the field of human rights. The topic has to be related, in the broadest sense possible, to the field of human rights. If it relates to a societal problem addressed by the law, we suggest using the detailed problem- and policy-oriented analysis developed by policy-oriented jurisprudence. The thesis should consist of at least 15,000 words. Students must arrange supervision of their papers with a member of the law or LL.M. faculty who have indicated their willingness to act as supervisors. For more detailed information about supervisory faculty or other questions, please contact the Intercultural Human Rights Program office at by phone at (305) 474-2403.

Graduation Requirements

Graduation from the LL.M. Program in Intercultural Human Rights requires the completion of 24 academic credits of the LL.M. course of study, including all the required courses and necessary elective courses as detailed above.

The student needs to achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 in order to graduate.