Global Village Living-Learning Center | Human Rights, Truth and Justice
G220 | 26644 | Cesar Seveso


(3 cr.) (S&H) (TR, 9:30-10:45, FQ 012B) This course explores how
societies across the world historically define, enforce, and violate
human rights. It also examines how states punish the perpetrators of
human rights violations and set the foundations for national
reconciliation, truth, and justice. We take as our point of
departure the post-World War II years, when the atrocities committed
by Nazi Germany led to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of
Human Rights in 1948. We will then analyze the way that global
processes impact and transform local struggles by examining how the
idea of human rights shaped the movement for civil rights in the US
South during the 1960s. Next, we will analyze how and why the
establishment of dictatorships across Latin America led to the
systematic violation of human rights during the 1970s. At the same
time, we will start to ponder how democratic governments, empowered
by a discourse of human rights, have challenged the rule of
authoritarian regimes. Similarly, we will analyze how truth and
justice were achieved in post-socialist Eastern Europe, where no
such commissions were enacted. Finally, we will tackle the
systematic use of torture in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the impact
that global, non-governmental actors have in the maintenance and
violation of human rights.  Throughout the course, our main goal
will be to think how different societies have constructed mechanisms
to protect basic rights to which all humans are entitled. At the
conceptual level, we will define human rights, explore how the
definition has worked across cultures and time, and analyze the
impact of new global actors on the international human rights law.
On a broader level, this course will introduce students to
fundamental categories of analysis and emphasize the relations
between theoretical concepts with specific historical examples.