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The EU and Human Rights - KU Leuven University



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Learn how the EU affects your human rights and gain insights into the ways the EU can enhance its positive impact on human rights worldwide. With this course you earn while you learn, you gain recognized qualifications, job specific skills and knowledge and this helps you stand out in the job market.

Important information

Requirements: None, but students with elementary knowledge of the EU and the concept of human rights will find it easier to follow the lectures.


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What you'll learn on the course

Human Rights
Europe Union

Course programme

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. The course will examine a number of key questions:

  • What factors are key to making the EU a positive or a negative force for human rights? An example is the economic crisis: what impact has it 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 United Nations.
  • In key policy sectors in which the EU is active, what is on balance the impact of the EU? 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 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.

What you'll learn

  • How the EU works
  • What the EU does
  • How the EU affects human rights
  • Where the EU can do better to be a positive force for human rights

Additional information

Joana Abrisketa Uriarte Joana is Assistant Professor of Public International Law at the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain and member of the Institute of Human Rights of the university.   Wolfgang Benedek Wolfgang is Professor of International Law at the Karl Franzens University of Graz (Austria) and founder and co-director of the European Training and Research Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Graz (ETC).   Florence Benoît-Rohmer Florence is Professor at the Law Faculty in Strasbourg (France) and Secretary General of the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC) in Venice, Italy.