The Politics of Human Rights: Narratives and Counternarratives

Organizing institution
Utrecht University - Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance
Course code
Course fee (excl. housing)
€ 690.00
Advanced Bachelor

Some say we need ‘borders instead of human rights’. That refugees do not deserve rights. Others think that human rights are ‘not enough’, or that they only serve the neoliberal elite now. What is for sure is that human rights are under pressure from governments, even on the conceptual level. So you want to be a good human rights lawyer, academic or advocate? You better be prepared. Human rights do not exist in a political vacuum. And the labor market demands clear language and a concrete set of practical skills.     

‘The politics of human rights’ is an international and interdisciplinary course; mixing together the nuances, ambiguities and need for accommodation of the field of 'politics' with the absolutes of legal claims to rights, the use of normative justification and the often underlying binary of right and wrong of the field of human rights.  We work to comprehend the space for human rights political system, the international climate on human rights, and fundamental human rights criticism and framing in order to enhance our dealings with human rights issues, and to build stronger counternarratives to human rights violations and abuse. Every session focuses on concrete and real-life human rights issues, applied academic knowledge as well as practical skills.
Course coördinator is René Rouwette. He is a professional lobbyist in The Hague and the founder of Dutch civil rights organization Kompass. Moreover, he is a research affiliate and PhD Candidate at Utrecht University and the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM).

Download the day-to-day programme (PDF)

Course director

Rene Rouwette


Prof. dr. Cees Flinterman

Prof. dr. Barbara Oomen

Dr. Laura Henderson

Dr. Karin Geuijen

Lucas Roorda, LLM 

Rene Rouwette, MA

Target audience

Advanced students and Professionals


Course fee
€ 690.00
Housing fee
€ 200.00

Housing through Utrecht Summer School


There are three scholarships.
- Two scholarships are reserved for InclUUsion participants.
- One scholarship is reserved for someone travelling from the global south.

Please note that the scholarship is a tuition waiver only. We will only decide about the scholarship at the end of April when enough students have applied.


For this course you are required to upload the following documents when applying:

  • Motivation Letter
  • C.V.

More information

Recommended combinations
International Human Rights Law: An Introduction


Application deadline: 02 June 2019