2nd semester: Tuesday evening                                                                         (Min. No. 8)



This unit will trace the historical development and understanding of human rights and their relation to justice. It will examine some influential contemporary theories of justice and human rights and explore how they have found expression and consensual agreement in internationally ratified documents. These documents will be studied in detail. Particular attention will be given to the Roman Catholic understanding of justice and rights and how they found expression in official Catholic documents and in the writings of Catholic theologians. Finally, this unit will explore a range of contemporary social issues such as: immigration and refugees, cultural identity and diversity; religious liberty and freedom of worship; the role of political authority vis á vis the political rights, responsibilities and participation of citizens; the tragedies of genocides and works of national reconciliation in the aftermath; torture; moral responsibility for the environment; modern forms of slavery; and capital punishment.

PREREQUISITES: DT1000Y or equivalent


Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. describe the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights
  2. articulate the philosophical and theological foundations of the various conflicting justice and human rights positions in public discourse
  3. engage in critical dialogue with diverse positions on justice and human rights issues in regard to the foundations for justice and rights
  4. discuss the conflicting rights, duties, and responsibilities that public authorities face when formulating public policies that affect human rights
  5. critically evaluate arguments for positions taken in human rights debates using primary sources (Level 3 only)


Level 2: Class tutorial 1500 words (30%); major essay 2500 words (70%)

Level 3: Class tutorial 1500 words (30%); major essay 3000 words (70%)


BIBLIOGRPAHY *set texts recommended for purchase

**Reichert, Elisabeth. Social Work and Human Rights: A Foundation for Policy and Practice,

2nd ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

*Maritain, Jacques. The Rights of Man and Natural Law. New York: Gordian Press, 1971. (This book is out of print but will be provided in pdf file).

Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. 2nd ed. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2003.

Hollenbach, David. Claims in Conflict: Retrieving and Renewing the Catholic Human Rights Tradition. New York: Paulist Press, 1979.

Ignatieff, Michael. Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Kusumalayam, John. Human Rights: Individual or/and Group Rights? An Attempt Towards A Holistic Understanding of Human Rights Based on the Christian Concept of the Human Person as the Imago Trinitatis. Mumbai: St Pauls, 2008.

Ishay, Micheline. The Human Rights Reader: Major Political Essays, Speeches, and Documents from Ancient Times to the Present. 2nd ed. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2007.

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Vatican City: Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 2004.