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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Nov 27, 2021
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SEST 637 - Nat Security & Human Rights
Human rights and national security issues have consistently intersected – and at some times clashed - throughout U.S. history.  Questions about how, when, why -  and even if -  human rights should feature in U.S. national security policy continue to challenge policymakers who face a full range of competing interests. Success for modern professionals at the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and in the intelligence community increasingly requires familiarity with the terminology, history, and a well-informed understanding of comparative approaches to human rights and foreign policy. This course will provide the SSP student a basic, but thorough, survey of the theories, international legal regimes, domestic political forces, key mechanisms, and global debates related to the international human rights movement in the context of U.S. national security policy. Unlike surveys of the human rights movement or courses in international human rights law, the course is uniquely designed with the student who specializes in a national security-related field in mind.  

The course will blend theory, history, case study, and practical exercise over the course of three sections designed to meet the needs of students with varying interests and backgrounds: 

•	The first section will explore the origins and competing theories of human rights. Students will analyze the tensions between and within different theories of rights, including between universalism and cultural relativism, and between socialist and liberal concepts of rights.  Students will then consider how human rights fit within different theories of international relations, with a particular emphasis on the relevance of human rights to security cooperation and conflict within theories of realism and institutionalism.  The section will conclude with a survey of the international legal frameworks that govern and define human rights, international humanitarian law (law of armed conflict), and international criminal accountability. 

•	The second section will focus on the sources of influence and means of implementation of human rights policy.  First, the class will examine how congress, civil society, and the advocacy community serve to influence human rights policies, followed by consideration of ways that the human rights agenda can be incorporated into – or constrained by – a variety of mechanisms, to include security assistance programs and multilateral organizations, particularly the United Nations.

•	The third section will focus on a selection of key contemporary issues in human rights and national security, and the course will culminate in three practical exercises designed to provoke debate and consideration of competing viewpoints on rights in practice. Students will debate, discuss, and analyze how the protection of human rights impacts short-term and long-term national security interests in the context of modern developments, such as the Arab Spring, the War on Terror, and the utility of military intervention for humanitarian purposes.

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate
Schedule Types: Seminar

Security Studies Department

Must be enrolled in one of the following Majors:     
      Arab Studies
      Asian Studies
      Foreign Service
      German and European Studies
      Global Human Development
      Latin American Studies
      Law/Arab Studies
      Law/Foreign Service
      Law/Security Studies
      Russian & East European Stud
      Security Studies

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