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Nina Reiners

Dear students,

I am not teaching or working in Potsdam this semester. Please send me an email (nreinersuni-potsdamde) if you have any questions regarding previous seminars, your theses, or potential supervision. 

Thank you and see you next semester!



Summer term 2019:

MA-Seminar: Informal Governance


Summer term 2018

The History and Future(s) of Human Rights


MA Seminar


70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the global human rights regime stands at a critical juncture. Scholars declare its “endtimes”, identify a “gridlock” of the system or even its “irrelevance”. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will not seek a second term as “bending a knee in supplication” is no option for his mandate. At the same time, Amnesty International warns that the current world leaders’ lack of political will fuels a global pushback against human rights. Is the future of human rights a dark one or is there “evidence for hope” for “making human rights a reality” for everyone? And, which institutions and actors are best prepared to deliver on the promises of human rights? Which role plays human rights law for human rights?

The seminar aims to address these questions from multiple theoretical perspectives and by evaluating empirical research in the field of international human rights. In a first step, the seminar critically reflects on the causes of human rights and their uses in recent history. We then analyze how the global right regime, here focusing on the UN Charter-based and treaty-based bodies, enables human rights protection and which factors threaten its effectiveness. With a view to the main sources of contestation, we explore the potential futures of human rights. The seminar concludes with a simulation of a briefing for the Treaty Body Reform 2020 process. For this aim, students prepare their own advisory opinion on the future of the UN human rights system.     


Firmly rooted in political science, the seminar also introduces perspectives from law, history and sociology on human rights. Starting from the premise that human rights are by nature an interdisciplinary subject of study, critical perspectives are especially encouraged for our in-class discussions and the individual assignments.