Ethics and Human Rights in World Politics

Discipline: Politics and International Relations
Instructor: LeFebvre
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 1 - Tuesday, 6 October | Greece Download Syllabus

This course introduces students to current international moral, ethical, and legal issues that emerge when individual liberties and human rights clash with politics, laws, economic interests, customs, traditions, religions, and government policies. How do issues of human rights and ethical choice operate in the world of states? Are the rights and liberties set out in country constitutions a reality? Do individual states adhere to international human rights moral, ethical, and legal norms? What are those human rights norms, and where do they come from? The course covers human rights issues with regard the following topics: discrimination against Roma ethnic groups (Greece, Italy, Spain); extrajudicial killings (Brazil, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago); xenophobia, refugees, and immigrants (Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, and Senegal); homophobia, same sex relationships, and same sex marriage (all port countries); impact of caste (Senegal); gender-based violence, discrimination, and customary practices harmful to women  (focus on Turkey, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil); sexual morality and laws (all port countries); contemporary slavery and labor and sex trafficking (all port countries); torture, due process, and freedoms of press, speech, assembly (Turkey, Morocco, Brazil); genocide (holocaust during WWII; Turkey and Armenian Genocide Centenary; indigenous groups); discrimination based on race, nationality, indigenous status, religion, politics, ethnicity, class, caste, or minority status (all port countries); organ transplant tourism and sale of organs (most port countries); human rights violations and the exploitation of natural resources (Brazil, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica); and the impact of government corruption on human rights.

You will learn about these issues through the following: your own experiences and focused observations in countries we visit; by reading articles, treaties, agreements, reports, studies, indices, court cases, documents published by scholars, international and country-specific human rights governmental organizations, and human rights NGOS; through lectures; case studies; class presentations; by writing your research paper; and through participating in the course labs and other country-based experiential learning.

Field Work

Country: Greece
Day: 1 - Tuesday, 6 October

Greece is currently embroiled in a political dispute with Germany about reparations to Greece for Nazi atrocities during WWII.  Greece is connecting reparations to the repayment negotiations of IMF/EU bail-out loans to Greece. Germany plays a major role in these repayment negotiations because Germany’s banks make up a chunk of the lenders and Germany is the financial leader of the EU. In other words, Greece is reminding Germany that it has not paid reparations to Greece as a way to encourage Germany to negotiate with Greece on repayment and to let the EU and Germany know that it could pay this debt if Germany paid reparations. As part of our study of human rights violations, we will visit Kalavrita, the site of some of the worst war crimes in committed by the Nazis in Greece. We will learn what happened on Dec. 10, 1943, when in retaliation for the Nazis’ belief that the town of Kalavrita, a small town in the mountains of the Peloponnese Peninsula, was helping the Greek Resistance, Nazis marched in. We will tour the town, graveyard, the Municipal Museum of the Holocaust of Kalavrita, and other key sites, including, if possible, the caves where some tried to find shelter that winter. If we have time, we will meet with a town representative to talk about the enduring impact of the massacre on this town and its people; about forgiveness; and about the current reparations issue. On the way back to Piraeus, you will begin working on 3-5 page reflection paper on this lab, in which you will discuss what you learned from this field experience and its connections to your readings. Academic objectives:

  1. Connect the course readings to the reality of human rights atrocities by visiting the sites where war crimes were committed.
  2. Learn about the enduring impact human rights violations on a town and its people by talking to townspeople ands on the collective memory of the region.
  3. Connect the readings about reparations as a remedy for human rights violations with a present Greece/Germany political dispute, prompted by a recent economic bail-out loans Greece is supposed to repay. Greece is connecting reparations it never received from Germany for Nazi crimes to its repayment and renegotiation of these loans.