Protection of Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Practices, Challenges and Prospects (18 Jan to 21 Mar, 2017)

Course Description

The experience of the ‘scourge of war’ during and in the immediate aftermath of World War II brought about a new international recognition and focus to the rights of human beings. Today, there are several international treaties guaranteeing a wide range of human rights. International and regional mechanisms to monitor and enforce compliance of human rights have proliferated. Despite these efforts, we continue to live in a world where human rights are rampantly abused at all levels. Contemporary global events have in fact led to a significant rise in xenophobia and racism, which are in turn posing challenges to the universality of international human rights norms. Today, like never before, there is an amplified need for professionals from all spheres of life to not only understand and mainstream human rights into their activities and policies, but also to be prepared to meet the growing challenges posed by current and emerging global issues.

This 9 week specialized certificate course consciously adopts a contemporary focus for unpacking the diverse dimensions of international human rights law, practice and advocacy. It begins with a juxtaposition of human rights in theory and in practice, and situates the very concept on a spectrum of competing approaches adopted by contemporary thinkers. Having thus set the tone for a critical and realistic analysis of contemporary human rights issues, the course examines the notion of universality of human rights with the use of case studies from recent global events. Participants will thereafter analyze human rights norms encompassed within the two International Covenants viz. on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and after critically evaluating the falsity of these distinctions in their applicability to the modern globalized world, will also examine specific challenges to their implementation. The course will further analyze human rights in the context of lived realities of women, before moving on to examining challenges to the protection of vulnerable groups and persons such as children, forced migrants, and indigenous persons, as well as the politicization of collective rights. Finally, participants will discuss and debate on challenges to the enforcement and compliance of human rights as well as the role of civil society and non-state actors in the promotion of human rights in a globalized world.

The course will adopt a dynamic pedagogy including required and optional readings, interaction with fellow participants and instructor, webinars and/or recorded lectures by the Instructor, and most importantly, critical self-reflection.

Course Outline

  • Week One: Conceptualizing Human Rights for the Contemporary World: Approaches and Discourses
  • Week Two: The Universality of Human Rights: Current Debates and Perspectives
  • Week Three: Civil and Political Rights and the Contemporary Challenges for Implementation
  • Week Four: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Contemporary Challenges for Implementation
  • Week Five: Women and Human Rights: Current Global Issues
  • Week Six: International Protection of Vulnerable Groups and Persons: Current Global Issues
  • Week Seven: Collective Rights and Contemporary Global Politics: Right to Self-Determination, Right to Development, Right to a Healthy Environment, and Right to Peace
  • Week Eight: Enforcement and Compliance of Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Challenges and Prospects
  • Week Nine: Globalization and the Role of Civil Society and Non-State Actors in the Promotion of Human Rights

Who Should Apply

The course is intended for staff members of civil society organisations and (inter)governmental organisations involved in human rights protection and promotion, social justice and development practitioners, academics, researchers and students, who are interested in gaining a solid foundational knowledge of human rights law and practice, but are further interested in delving deeper into an understanding and analysis of contemporary global issues which pose a challenge to the human rights project. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use.

About the Instructor

Dr. Mihir Kanade (India) is the Director of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre and is also the Head of the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE. His principal area of academic research and study is Human Rights and Globalization, covering several themes within that interface including trade and investment, sustainable development, forced migration, indigenous peoples’ rights, public health, amongst others. He has extensive experience in training staff of inter-governmental, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as professionals, in the field of human rights. He acts as an advisor to several human rights organizations and corporations on issues related to human rights and international law. He is also an adjunct faculty at Universidad Alfonso XI El Sabio (Spain), Cheikh Anta Diop University (Senegal), and Long Island University (United States). He has a LL.B from Nagpur University (India) and a Masters degree and PhD from UPEACE. Prior to his pursuit in academia, Mihir practiced for six years as a lawyer in the Bombay High Court and in the Supreme Court of India, focusing on issues of fundamental human rights violations.

Course Fee

For Certificate: Fee for taking this course is USD 800. UPEACE students and almuni enrolling for the Certificate course are entitled to 30% discount on the fee.

For Auditing: It is also possible to audit the course, in which case, participants will not receive a certificate. Auditors, however, will have access to all course material, be able to participate in the synchronous webinar sessions, and be able to monitor the online discussions of participants. The fee for auditing the course is USD 300.

For Certificate and 3 Academic Credits: Participants are also able to take the course for three academic credits offered by UPEACE. The cost of taking the course for 3 academic credits is USD 1550.

Application Procedure

To apply, please send an email to along with your CV and a short Statement of Purpose (not more than 500 words) indicating the motivation for taking the course. Applicants will be contacted within three working days of the application. The course is limited to 25 participants.


Payments may be made either by credit card or by wire transfer. Payment by wire transfer usually takes three to four business days to be deposited in our account. Payment by credit card is instant. If you choose the credit card option, you may notice that we receive slightly less than what you send. That is because the credit card company charges a percentage of the amount for its services. We will not charge you for the bank or credit card company’s deductions.

If you wish to make the payment by credit card, please go to

Payments by wire transfer must be made to the following bank account:

Universidad para la Paz
Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
Bank account number:100-02-099-600195-4
Swift Code: BNCRCRSJ and IBAN: CR5715109910026001958
Avenidas 1 y 3, Calle 4
San José, Costa Rica