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Promoting and Protecting Human Rights: a Global Overview

Human rights are an inherent part of every individual. They are the outcome of long struggles and achievements. Responding to the necessity to counter - and in the future prevent - the tragic effects of genocide, war, economic depression, nationalism and colonialism, they were engraved in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations". Then, they carried the hope for freedom, justice and peace in the world. Today, they are often questioned, attacked, dismissed and violated. But they still stand to remind us that “we are all born equal and free in dignity and rights”.

Promoting and protecting human rights is yet a work in progress. Much still needs to be done, but we can build on the concrete improvements and achievements that human rights have already allowed over the years. We can defend cases, advocate for change and bring about progress on the basis of legal instruments and mechanisms: laws, institutions, courts. We can face challenges with the strength of the benefits that have been demonstrated around the world: greater freedom and democracy; better health, education, and standards of living. To continue our efforts, we need information, education, awareness and action. This course provides you with a solid basis to understand, know and stand up for human rights.

Course Outline

The course is articulated in 2 modules: the first one (two classes) is recommended for all participants, while the second one (5 classes) is elective and can be composed of minimum 1 and maximum 5 classes, for a total of maximum 7 classes.

  • Module 1 focuses on the international framework of human rights promotion and protection. In particular, it summarily explains standards, mechanisms, benefits and challenges in the current set up, especially at the United Nations level.
  • Module 2 is dedicated to regional perspectives on the standards, mechanisms, benefits and challenges in five regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, the Arab World, Asia Pacific, and Europe. In so doing, it specifically analyses the links with the international framework and the distinctive features of each geographical area.

Lecturers and Experts

Designed in cooperation with the Coordinators of the 7 Regional Master’s Programmes of the GC, the MOOC offers a wealth of specialised knowledge and expertise. The faculty includes, among others:


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course participants will have gained:

  • Knowledge about key historical, philosophical and legal developments
  • Understanding of progress and obstacles (overtime and current)
  • Ability to identify multi-faceted aspects (pros and cons)
  • Understanding of international legal frameworks, mechanisms and challenges
  • Capacity to discuss specific areas and groups/cases of concern





How do I enrol in the course?

In order to enrol, please follow the instructions on our “How to Enrol” webpage. This will then lead you to the OpenEdX course page. Once you are there, you can start the enrolment process by clicking the "enrol" button

Is there a selection procedure to participate in the course?

The course is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which means we do not select participants on any basis. Rather, we welcome anyone who is interested in learning more about the topic to enrol and participate for free.



I would like to know if the course is free or if some parts are to be paid

Our course is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which means all components are open and totally free for anyone.

Do I need to pay any fee to attend the course?

There are no registration or tuition fees. The certificate of participation is also free and offered to all those who successfully complete all the course requirements (see below for details on the certificate).



Is the course accessible to persons with disabilities?

We want all participants in our courses to enjoy a great learning experience and we strive to always improve accessibility. Each week of the course includes one or two video lectures with accompanying transcripts and reading materials. The texts are in PDF format, work at low bandwidths, are printable and can be zoomed to the desired size. Some readings may include pages from accessible websites. This makes all of them accessible to those who use assistive technology software such as screen readers. Likewise, weekly discussions and module quizzes can be completed through our platform which is accessible, for example, to people who use speech input, keyboard accessible controls or text to speech tools. For more details please visit EdX Website Accessibility Policy.


Structure and content

Is there a schedule for the course or is it self-directed?

The course is self-paced so participants can study in their own time.


Certificate of completion

What do I need to do to get the certificate of completion?

Given the flexible nature of the MOOC, it would be complex to issue a certificate for each varying degree and level of completion. For this reason, we give you the possibility to either audit the course to the extent that you wish or earn a certificate of participation upon completion of all 7 classes. If you decide to audit the course, you will not receive a certificate, but you can print your progress page if you want evidence of your achievement. If you would like or need to have official proof that you have completed this MOOC, we offer you the option of requesting a Certificate of Completion with a Transcript of Records. In order to do so, you will have to successfully complete and pass all the 7 Classes of the course and related Quizzes.

Why should I request a certificate?

If you plan to use your course for job applications, promotions, or school applications, you may prefer to have a certificate that is officially signed and accompanied by a transcript of records. It is also a great way to give yourself an incentive to complete the course and celebrate your success.

I am not interested in a certificate. Can I still audit a course?

Yes. All our courses can be audited for free. If you audit a course, you can participate in any or all activities and quizzes and complete them, but you will not receive a certificate. Do you still want some proof of participation? You can simply print the progress chart that you will find in your course page.


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