Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The European Union and Human Rights

HREA is pleased to announce a new e-learning course on the European Union and human rights. The European Union (EU) has established itself as a key player (and payer) in human rights on a global level. Human rights are not only of importance within the European Union and for European Union citizens but have become an intrinsic part of the EU's external relations. The EU regularly invokes human rights in its bilateral relations with third countries, in international organisations and in its trade relations. In addition, it relies on related concepts such as democracy and good governance and - more recently – human security to guide its external policies. The EU seeks to operationalise such concepts through a variety of means, including financial assistance, training, human rights dialogues, "conditionality", and election observation.

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Yet, the EU's approach to human rights is subject to critique for its lack of coherence, the application of double standards and ineffectiveness. The specifics of the EU's human rights policy and its operational tools and the interaction between international human rights law and European law are often little understood outside expert circles, leading to false assumptions and expectations as to what the EU can and should deliver in terms of human rights.

This course is an introduction to human rights in the EU's external relations. It seeks to provide fundamental information on the EU's human rights law and policy, explore the critique levelled against the EU and shed light on the legal and political conditions under which the EU seeks to protect and promote human rights globally.

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The course explains, in general terms, what the EU is and what it does and how it fits into the larger European human rights system. It explores the role of human rights in the Union, including the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, the content and meaning of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the challenges that the Union faces with regard to asylum, immigration, racism and xenophobia, as well as the newly established Fundamental Rights Agency. It focuses on a selected range of important means and methods which the EU uses to assist in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. They include human rights dialogues, human rights guidelines, human rights clauses, support for democracy and good governance, election observation, peace support operations, and financing human rights. The course critically assesses such tools and operations from a theoretical and practical point of view, questions the existence of a coherent EU human rights policy and analyses the impact of the EU's activities on the ground.

Course 8T09: The European Union and Human Rights
2 February-12 April 2009 | Application deadline: 1 December 2008
Instructor: Dr. Gerd Oberleitner

For further information and applications: