from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
The Great British Year: WinterMonday, 5th October 2015 21:00 - BBC FourA frozen nation, but not a wasteland... Read more: The Great British Year: Winter
Canals: The Making of a Nation: HeritageTuesday, 6th October 2015 20:00 - BBC Four
The world’s busiest railway 2015 – Mumbai Railway: Episode 4Wednesday, 7th October 2015 00:45 - BBC Two
Canals: The Making of a Nation: HeritageWednesday, 7th October 2015 00:55 - BBC Four
The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Art and the Business of TasteAvailable for over a yearHow do you value something like a painting? What makes one artist worth more than another? Who decides what is in... Read more: The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Art and the Business of Taste
The world’s busiest railway 2015 – Mumbai Railway: Episode 4Available until Friday, 6th November 2015 01:15
BBC Inside Science: Preserving global diversity: Kew specialAvailable for over a year
Countdown To Life: The Extraordinary Making Of You: The Final PushAvailable until Saturday, 31st October 2015 00:15
Who will lead Britain out of the European UnionPerhaps it's not surprising that campaigners against the European Union don't want to work... Read more: Who will lead Britain out of the European Union
Order your free 'Nine Months That Made You' posterOrder your free poster on 'Nine Months That Made You' to accompany the OU/BBC series 'Countdown... Read more: Order your free 'Nine Months That Made You' poster
Learning to teachThis free course, which comprises four study units, is aimed at people who are considering... Try: Learning to teach now
English: skills for learningThis course is for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would like to... Try: English: skills for learning now
Rights and justice in international relations
Can the concept of human rights be applied across borders or are rights culturally...
Can the concept of human rights be applied across borders or are rights culturally specific? Is it realistic, or even desirable, to aim at an international system based on universal principles of justice? This unit takes a critical view of the assumption that ‘rights are a good thing’ and looks at the problems that arise when they are applied in the international arena.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- understand the different interpretations of internationally recognised notions of rights and justice;
- give examples of implementing justice in an international sphere;
- investigate questions in international studies;
- analyse the different agencies of change in the international system.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 International human rights: an introduction
- 2 The United Nations settlement
- 3 Defining rights
- 4 Defining justice
- 5 Rights in the international arena
- 5.1 Rights, justice and international politics
- 5.2 Human rights in the international arena
- 5.3 Problems with international rights
- 5.4 The influence of the Western perspective
- 5.5 Feminist critiques of international rights
- 5.6 Against whom are rights claims made?
- 5.7 Relating individual rights to state sovereignty
- 5.8 Review of criticisms of international rights
- 6 International justice – communitarian and cosmopolitan perspectives
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 Further reading
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
Rights and justice in international relations
This unit is about rights and rights claims, and the idea of implementing justice in the international sphere based on the concept of rights. It is agreed by most people that ‘rights are a good thing’ and in many respects they are. However, this unit deliberately takes a critical view. It seeks to examine closely why rights are a good thing and highlights some of the problems associated with rights. In this way, we hope that the sense in which rights are still, ultimately, ‘a good thing’ can be clarified and sharpened, and the valid reasons for rights thereby strengthened. The belief in rights based on a moral assertion of a common humanity that we all share is not self-justifying, and it needs to be located within the complex political field of international relations.
In Section 2, we look briefly at some aspects of the development of internationally recognised human rights as expressed in the UN Charter and 1948 Declaration. Section 3 and Section 4 consider rights and justice by elucidating the meaning of the terms and some of the debates about how best to conceptualise them. In Section 5 and Section 6, the working definitions previously outlined are used to think about the impact that notions of rights and justice can have on international relations. In the concluding section (Section 7), we consider the future of rights and justice in the international realm.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Politics courses or view the range of currently available OU Politics courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Monday, 25th July 2011
Last updated on: Friday, 24th August 2012
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.