Practice of human rights

2.3.1 Human rights: claims and violations

2.3.1 HR claims and abuses


United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

This database provides easy access to jurisprudence emanating from the United Nations Treaty Bodies which receive and consider complaints from individuals.

Essay Question

Examine the claim that human rights as presented in treaties and covenants are not enforceable and are therefore of little use to vulnerable populations.

2.3.2 Debates on same-sex marriage

Debates on same-sex marriage

These maps are often deceptive. For example, it shows countries in which adoption is possible for same-sex couples. However, in practice this is far more complicated. IVF is only possible for same-sex couples in a few countries, and for male same-sex couples even less.

Moreover, in countries like Germany, same-sex mothers are not automatically recognised on a birth certificate. Instead, they only consider the person who carried the baby to be the legal parent, the other parent must go through a process of 'second-parent adoption'. This may take several years, requires inspection visits by social workers and other authorities. Whilst waiting for a court to grant the adoption, the parent cannot travel out of the country with the child, may have difficulty taking them to hospital, and overall, has no rights to the child. This is extremely serious, for example if the parent who carried the child dies or the couple separate.

Germany is just one of many countries that have the rule of 'second-parent adoption'. In many of these countries, if a heterosexual couple is married, the husband's name is automatically put on the child's birth certificate even if he is not the biological father! Similarly, step-fathers do not have to do 'second-parent adoption'. It is a clear example of active discrimination of same-sex families.

2.3.3 Rights of Asylum Seekers

Case Study: Australia's migration policy: Nauru

1. Watch the 2016 documentary Chasing Asylum.

Film warning: this is an emotional and challenging documentary.

2. Complete the worksheet in preparation for an essay about the role of human rights instruments in protecting the rights of asylum seekers.

In addition, you should independently research a second case study of asylum policy in another country so you can provide comparison and contrast in your essay.

2.3.4 Human Trafficking and Forced Labour

Case studies

Human trafficking and forced labour are both complex and interconnected global challenges.

There are a lot of good and bad videos on the internet documenting case study examples.

The following are suggestions, you can choose any of your own instead of these.

Child labour, West Africa

Bride trafficking, Asia

Forced Labour, Gulf states

Human Trafficking, Netherlands

2.3.5 War Crimes

Human Rights violations are especially prevelant in theatres of war and at times of conflict.

Task 1: Refresh by looking at lesson 4.2.6 from the Peace and Conflict unit: Law of Armed Conflict

Task 2: Case studies of war crimes.

As you study each case study, think about the strengths and weakness of international law to protect, enforce and prosecute.

4.2.6 Law of Armed Conflict


Case Study: Israel-Gaza

2.3.5 Israel-Gaza War Crimes?

Reading and Questions


Source check!

Think about the reliability and political bias of this source.

Check how other media agencies covered the conflict.

Additional Case Studies:

Case Study: Afghanistan

This case study connects with what we studied of Afghanistan in the Peace and Conflict unit.

2.3.5 War Crimes in Afghanistan


2.3.5 Afghanistan War Crimes



This case study connects with what we studied of Afghanistan in the Peace and Conflict unit.

It also links to Orientalism which is connected to the theory of post-colonialism. See the theory page to learn more.

Essay questions

To what extent is the protection and enforcement of human rights in developing countries best pursued at the national level?

“The most significant cause of human rights violations in global politics is structural violence.” Discuss this view