Course dates:

From June 2020

The protection and promotion of human rights have only a limited life in the legal phrasings of treaties; they must be given meaning in individual lives.


— Sergio Vieira de Mello

Human rights are an inherent part of every individual. They are the outcome of long struggles and achievements. Responding to the necessity to counter - and in the future prevent - the tragic effects of genocide, war, economic depression, nationalism and colonialism, they were engraved in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations". Then, they carried the hope for freedom, justice and peace in the world. Today, they are often questioned, attacked, dismissed and violated. But they still stand to remind us that “we are all born equal and free in dignity and rights”.

Promoting and protecting human rights is yet a work in progress. Much still needs to be done, but we can build on the concrete improvements and achievements that human rights have already allowed over the years. We can defend cases, advocate for change and bring about progress on the basis of legal instruments and mechanisms: laws, institutions, courts. We can face challenges with the strength of the benefits that have been demonstrated around the world: greater freedom and democracy; better health, education, and standards of living. To continue our efforts, we need information, education, awareness and action. This course provides you with a solid basis to understand, know and stand up for human rights.



The course is articulated in 2 modules: the first one (two classes) is recommended for all participants, while the second one (5 classes) is elective and can be composed of minimum 1 and maximum 5 classes, for a total of maximum 7 classes.

Module 1 focuses on the international framework of human rights promotion and protection. In particular, it summarily explains standards, mechanisms, benefits and challenges in the current set up, especially at the United Nations level.

Module 2 is dedicated to regional perspectives on the standards, mechanisms, benefits and challenges in five regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, the Arab World, Asia Pacific, and Europe. In so doing, it specifically analyses the links with the international framework and the distinctive features of each geographical area.


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course participants will have gained:

  • Knowledge about key historical, philosophical and legal developments
  • Understanding of progress and obstacles (overtime and current)
  • Ability to identify multi-faceted aspects (pros and cons)
  • Understanding of international legal frameworks, mechanisms and challenges
  • Capacity to discuss specific areas and groups/cases of concern


The course is modelled on a flexible structure whereby the first Module (two classes) is general and the same for all participants, while the second Module (five classes) is composed of regional courses that can be selected by participants on the basis of their interests. For each class, participants are expected to engage in approximately 5 hours of active learning through readings, videos, and quizzes.
The ideal time for completion would be around 7 weeks (one week per class) for a total of 35 hours, but it could take less or more depending on the pace that each participant sets for it. Examples from different areas of the world and on different themes allow the identification of cross-regional and cross-cutting issues and enable a global and multidimensional understanding of the topic.


Certificate of Completion

Given the flexible nature of the MOOC, it would be complex to issue a certificate for each varying degree and level of completion. For this reason, we give you the possibility to either audit the course to the extent that you wish or earn a certificate of participation upon completion of all 7 classes. If you decide to audit the course, you will not receive a certificate, but you can print your progress page if you want evidence of your achievement.

If you would like or need to have official proof that you have completed this MOOC, we offer you the option of requesting a Free Certificate of Completion with a Transcript of Records. In order to do so, you will have to successfully complete and pass all the 7 Classes of the course and related Quizzes.


Target Audience

We designed this course for participants (students; governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental staff; social workers; researchers; committed citizens…) around the world who are actively interested and engaged in human rights work and wish to gain a general overview of historical and current developments at the international and regional level.