Summer 2020 Course Schedule

Human Rghts&Development (LAW-739S-E001)
Siobhan McInerney-Lankford, Margaret Roggensack

Meets: 03:00 PM - 04:50 PM (MTuWThF)

Enrolled: 11 / Limit: 22

Administrator Access


All summer 2020 classes will be taught online. Classes may have a combination of live sessions and asynchronous materials/assignments. The block of time listed here will be the maximum amount of live session meeting time expected of you and may be decreased to the extent of asynchronous material added. Students taking AHR and ADH specific classes that want to write a longer paper for an extra credit may enroll in LAW-799 Human Rights & Humanitarian Law Independent Study (1 credit).


Human rights and development have evolved largely in separate tracks, and even, to a large degree, separate worlds. However, times have changed. There are now clear spheres of convergence between these fields in theory, applied research and practice. In September 2015, UN member States concluded a new global agreement on development cooperation including a set of “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In the same year, two other global agreements were concluded: the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action arising from the third International Conference on Financing for Development. Human rights considerations and commitments have featured far more prominently in these agreements than their predecessors. However, the hard work in translating these commitments into action has only just begun and their ultimate impact cannot yet be foreseen. The institutional landscape for human rights and development is similar, a varied and complex one. Many bilateral and multilateral aid organizations, non-governmental organizations and development workers now profess to implement “rights-based approaches” to development, while others have resisted. There are still debates about the implementation and impact of such approaches. At the same time, governments, development agencies and others are facing increasing demands for accountability for human rights violations carried out in development’s name. With the myriad influential actors involved in development, and with the increasing involvement of the private sector, the locus of accountability seems increasingly diffuse. The infiltration of human rights into development thinking and practice has been embraced in many, but by no means all, quarters. No less a figure than Amartya Sen has remarked: “The suspicion is that there is something a little simple-minded about the entire conceptual structure that underlies the oratory on human rights.” Other commentators have derided rights-based approaches to development as mere “rhetorical repackaging.” The Human Rights and Development course will critically examine key features of this dynamic landscape, through a mix of lectures, case studies, group work discussions and practical exercises. The course will explore the contemporary conceptions and meanings of human rights and development, laying the ground for a more detailed examination of the points of convergence - as well as tensions - between these fields in both theory and practice. Consideration will be given to how international human rights standards and principles have emerged and how they have influenced public policy debates concerning international aid, development financing, infrastructure investment, engagement with fragile states, the MDGs and the SDGs and climate change. There will be a strong institutional focus within the program, with a close look at the roles and functions of international and regional development banks and other financing institutions, the Group of 20 industrialized countries (G20) and business entities, set against political debates on human rights and development in the United Nations’ inter-governmental and human rights bodies.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

All Readings will be provided in a digital format. Students will not be required to purchase any textbooks.

First Class Readings

Students will access all readings and syllabus materials in the upcoming weeks via an online portal. More instructions will be sent to registered students. The final syllabus will be updated on May 20, 2020. If you have any questions please email,


Use your MyAU username and password to access the syllabus in the following format(s):