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Course 11E07: Introduction to the Inter-American System of Human Rights Protection and Promotion
26 March-17 June 2007

Instructor: Víctor Rodríguez

This distance learning course provides participants with practical guidance on how to protect human rights through the Inter-American human rights system, and specifically the institutions and treaties of the Organization of American States (OAS). Participants will be introduced to the main Inter-American human rights conventions and jurisprudence, primarily as developed through the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (Washington D.C.) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (San José, Costa Rica). The course addresses human rights standards as they apply to civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and the rights of minorities. Case studies on the freedom of expression, violence against women, victims of torture, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, will deepen participants' understanding of the Inter-American human rights machinery and standards.

The course is primarily intended for advanced (under)graduate students of (international) law or social and political sciences; civic education, history and social science teachers; and NGO staff members from member states of the Organization of American States. Participants should have a good written command of English (the course language is English), have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use, and have regular access to e-mail and the Internet.

The course involves approximately 60 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction among students and instructors, and assignments, and is offered over a 12-week period beginning on 26 March 2007. This course will integrate active and participatory learning approaches within activities and assignments, with an emphasis on reflective and collaborative learning. Participants will do the required reading, prepare interim and final project assignments and participate in group discussions.

The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a Certificate of Participation. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1. History and institutional structure of the Organization of American States (OAS)
Week 2. The Inter-American Commission Human Rights
Week 3. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Week 4. Civil and political rights: American Convention on Human Rights
Week 5. Economic, social and cultural rights: Protocol of San Salvador
Week 6. Particularly vulnerable groups: The Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities and American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Week 7. Other Inter-American human rights mechanisms: Special Rapporteurs
Week 8. Role of NGOs in the protection and promotion of human rights
Week 9. Case Studies: Freedom of expression; indigenous peoples
Week 10. Case Studies: Persons with disabilities; torture
Week 11. Case Studies: Violence against women; internally displaced persons and refugees
Week 12. The future of the Inter-American human rights system

This course is co-organised by HREA and the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights (Costa Rica).

About the instructor

Dr. Víctor Rodríguez is a Costa Rican lawyer and Lecturer at the University of Costa Rica. He holds a graduate degree in international law from the University of Costa Rica. Studied of human rights at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) and the Institute of Human Rights René Cassin (France). He was Head of Legal Programmes and Assistant Secretary of the Inter-American Court of Human rights. Dr. Rodríguez is a professor at the University of Costa Rica and the National University, Costa Rica.

Who should apply

The course is intended for university students, teachers and NGO staff members of human rights/social justice organisations from OAS member states. Participants should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. The number of participants is limited to 25 per course. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


The course tuition fee is US$ 525 (tuition for auditors is US$ 200). Through the generosity of the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foudation full and partial scholarships (tuition waivers) are available for applicants from the Americas based on financial need.

The deadline for applications was 1 February 2007. We are no longer accepting applications.

Inquiries about the course can be sent to


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