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Online Course

The EU and Human Rights

KU Leuven University via edX

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Overview

Whether you are an EU citizen or not, this course concerns you! The EU is a major global actor in the field of human rights. EU treaties state that human rights are a fundamental value of the Union, which must be a silver thread in all its policies. The EU now acts within an impressive array of competences, and therefore has the potential to impact – positively or negatively – anyone’s human rights.

This EU and Human Rights course teaches the basics of human rights, placing the EU at the centre of investigation.

  • What factors are key to making the EU a positive or a negative force for human rights? For example, what impact has the economic crisis had on people’s human rights in the EU and the world?
  • Which actors, friends or foes, must the EU engage with to successfully promote human rights? Examples include NGOs, businesses, or other international organisations like the Council of Europe or the UN.
  • What is the impact of the EU in key policy sectors? Examples include trade, development, migration, social policy or international crisis management.

All of the course activities aim to improve your understanding of how the EU, alone or in combination with other local or global, state or non-state actors, can better promote and uphold human rights worldwide. The course is intended for anyone interested in human rights and the EU, human rights law, European Studies, international relations, global governance, etc. It is divided into four modules:

  1. The EU and Human Rights: Value Promotion and Coherence
  2. Promoting Human Rights inside the EU
  3. Promoting Human Rights in EU External Action
  4. Capitalising on Success and Remedying Flaws

This course is taught by leading academics, and the content is illustrated through interviews of practitioners in the field of the EU and human rights. The course also comprises a wealth of bibliographical resources, and frequent exercises to test what you have learned.

You can follow the content in sequence or complete modules in order of interest to you. Be aware that it would be realistic to spend 4 to 6 hours on each module. The course will be available from October until the end of February and you can follow your own rhythm in studying and practicing what is offered in each module.

This MOOC is based on the FRAME project (www.fp7-frame.eu. This course is offered in partnership with Kiron Open Higher Education and the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI).

Syllabus

Module 1: Human Rights Challenges in EU Policies
The course will first outline the background to EU action, presenting the environment in which the EU acts. The focus will then move to the challenges and factors that affect EU performance in relation to human rights.

Module 2: EU as a Human Rights Actor
In this week the core concept of human rights will be introduced, and examined in relation to two other values making up the EU’s constitutional triad: namely the rule of law and democracy. These are set against EU policy requirements provided for by the Treaties according to which coherence is to be ensured in all the EU’s internal and external policies.

Module 3-5: EU’s Internal Setting and Fundamental Rights Policies; Themes and Priorities of EU External Human Rights Policies; Actors and Geographic Approaches in EU External Relations
In weeks 3 to 5 the selected policy fields will illustrate the initiatives undertaken by the EU to fulfil its human rights obligations both internally and externally. The presentation of the complex policies will be accompanied by concrete case studies and insights from the practice.

Module 6: EU Human Rights Policy Evaluation
Finally, the course will provide insights into monitoring and evaluating possibilities, which may aid the EU in improving its human rights related performance both in terms of the use of policy instruments and shaping the policy content.

Module 7: Extension
The course will be open for an extra week for further revisions or questions.

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