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
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.