Sexual politics cut across issues in human rights, encompassing debates about gender equality, cultural relativism, sexual orientation, human trafficking, and HIV/AIDS. This seminar explores the role of law generally, and of human rights texts and principles in particular, in shaping global perspectives on sexuality. It exposes students to relevant theoretical issues in the legal literature and in other disciplines grappling with these topics. Students study the theoretical framework early in the seminar, followed by issue-oriented sessions which serve as a vehicle to examine the ways in which theory plays out in practice.
The seminar emphasizes contemporary developments in human rights legal advocacy. We study the role of NGOs, examining the potential for – and the limits of – using a rights-based approach to these issues. What do advocates mean when they talk about sexual rights? How do cultural differences come into play? Can human rights instruments effectively reduce violence or combat the spread of disease? How do we measure enforcement and effectiveness?
There are no prerequisites. Grading is based on class participation (25%), an oral presentation critiquing an NGO working in the field (25%), and a final paper (50%). The final paper can be used to fulfill the substantive analytic writing (S.A.W.) requirement for J.D. and LL.M. students. Enrolled students who do not attend the first session will be dropped to make room for wait-listed students.