81888 - Human Rights and Political institutions

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Raffaella Gherardi

  • Credits 8

  • SSD SPS/02

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Local and Global Development (cod. 9200)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality Reduced inequalities Climate Action Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the most important assumptions concerning the origins and theoretical foundations of human rights in the history of modern and contemporary political thought; has knowledge of what cultural and religious notions may be instrumental to their universal implementation in a multicultural society; has a solid knowledge of the basic constitutional texts, placed in the context of the history of political thought and with special reference to the contribution they gave to the codification of rights and human dignity; is able to set contemporary democratic institutions in the perspective of protection of fundamental human rights. More specifically, the student is able to: express an opinion concerning the most important assumptions about human rights; identify the specific traits of the fundamental modern constitutional texts; apply what has been learnt to the analysis of the contemporary institutions devised to protect and promote human rights.

Course contents

The first part of the course analyzes the transformations of the modern and contemporary State in order to examine the problems of the so-called “age of globalization”. The second part of the course, which starts from the American and French Revolutions, focuses on the most important models of Western constitutionalism and on the relation between politics and rights. We will also investigate the relation between constitutions and rights, mainly with reference to the twentieth century, and we will devote close attention some relevant cases of ‘new' constitutions of the early twenty-first century. The third part of the course will investigate the subject of war in the modern age and the contemporary new wars, with a special emphasis on the problem of the institutionalization of peace.


Here is one compulsory reading for the preparation of the exam(Students Attending or not Attending the Course):

M.Flores, Storia dei diritti umani, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2012;

R.Gherardi, La Dichiarazione universale dei diritti umani. Storia, tradizioni, sviluppi contemporanei, Roma, Viella, 2020.

2) Then, one book to be chosen in the following list (Students Attending or not Attending the Course)):

G. Teubner, La cultura del diritto nell'epoca della globalizzazione. L'emergere delle costituzioni civili, Roma, Armando, 2005.

A.Cassese, I diritti umani oggi, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2009;

B.Celano, I diritti nello Stato costituzionale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013;

C.Focarelli, La persona umana nel diritto internazionale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013;

L. Baccelli, I diritti del popolo. Universalismo e differenze culturali, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2013;

G. Gozzi, Umano, non umano. Intervento umanitario, colonialismo, primavere arabe, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2015;

L. Scuccimarra, Proteggere l'umanità. Sovranità e diritti umani nell'epoca globale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2016;

V. Angiolini, Diritti umani, Torino, Giappichelli, 2012;

G.Oestreich, Storia dei diritti umani e delle libertà fondamentali, Laterza, 2001.

J.O. Frosini, Constitutional Preambles at a Crossroads between Politics and Law, Maggioli editore, 2012.

L.Hunt, Inventing Human Rights. A History, New York-London, 2007.

M.Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, Princeton University Press, 2003.

J.Waldron (ed.by), Nonsense upon Stilts: Bentham, Burke and Marx on the Rights of Man, Routledge, 2014.

S.Benhabib, The Rights of Others. Aliens, Residents, and Citizens, Cambridege Uniersity Press, 2004.

D.Krezmer-E.Klein, The Concept of Human Dignity in Human Rights Discourse, Kluwer Law International, 2002.

3)Students not Attending the Course:

A. Donà, La politica dei diritti umani. Politiche, istituzioni e processi, Milano, Pearson, 2019.

4) Students are also required to know the following declarations and constitutions:

Declaration of Independence of the United States of America (1776); Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789); Weimar Constitution, second part (1919); Pact of the Society of Nations (1920); Briand-Kellog Pact (1928); Charter of the United Nations (1945); Constitution of the Italian Republic, fundamental principles, title I and title II ; Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); International covenants on human rights (1966); European Convention on Human Rights (CEDU: 1950);Charter of fundamental Rights of the European Union; American Convention on human rights (1969); Arab Charter on Human Rights; African Charter on human and peoples Rights; Asian Human Rights Charter.

Teaching methods

Lectures. Classes in cooperation with experts. Attendance is recommended.

Assessment methods

Student Attenting the Course: The final evaluation will be an average of oral examination (point 1, point 2 and point 4).

Student not Attenting the Course:The final evaluation will be an average of oral examination (point 1, point 2, point 3 and point 4).

Teaching tools

We will make ample use of material from Amnesty International, starting with the website (www.amnesty.it). The basic text f is the Report of The state of human rights in the world, published by Amnesty International.

Office hours

See the website of Raffaella Gherardi