International Law & Human Rights

With increasing globalization, distinctions between the domestic and the international fade. Numerous regulatory decisions, once decided domestically, are influenced, even shaped, by international institutions and international law.  These processes have an impact on Israel and the entire Middle East region. Israel is particularly exposed to the forces of globalization, being open to international trade and subject to scrutiny by external actors regarding its policies.  Israel is also a major contributor to the evolution of international law mainly through the sophisticated and groundbreaking decisions of the Supreme Court that resonate throughout the world and command attention and respect.  Israeli scholarship on international law stands at the cutting edge of the study of international law and is widely respected.

The goal of the International Law & Human Rights Track is to provide students with tools that will enable them to identify and explore the emerging global regulatory regimes in the fields of human rights and humanitarian law, environmental and cultural heritage protection, trade and investment regulation, and other fields.  As well as to assess the normative challenges that these regime pose to our democratic sensibilities and reflect on the possibilities for shaping these global institutions and their policies through accountability requirements of transparency, participation, reason-giving, liability, and judicial review.  This track is therefore attractive not only to students interested in international law but also to those whose passion is constitutional law and administrative law and those who wish to gain the tools to address problems of public law and policy in an era of global interdependency.

To complete your specialization in International Law and Human Rights track, you must take at least 14-15 credits of the LL.M.’s 32 required credits, from courses within the track, but you are more than welcome to take as many courses as you see fit – and that fit your schedule.  You can also take courses from the other tracks, in addition to general elective courses.

The professors and courses refer to the 2022-2023 academic year courses are subject to change every year.


Climate Change and Energy Law and Policy

Prof. Rafael Leal-Arcas - Queen Mary University of London

This course will examine the scientific, economic, legal, political, institutional, regulatory, and historical underpinnings of climate change as an issue and the related policy challenges of creating and sustaining a prosperous decarbonized modern society. Particular attention will be given to analyzing the existing international framework of treaties, laws, regulations, and policies and the incentives they have created to address the build-up of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The course will center on a set of critical questions including: What would a 21st century policy framework that is designed to deliver a successful response to climate change look like? Does the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement provide the right foundation for action? How should issues of (in)equity be addressed? How might incentives be structured to engage the business community in climate change problem-solving?


Human Trafficking: a Labor Approach

Prof. Hila Shamir- Tel Aviv University 

Human trafficking has attracted unprecedented attention in the past two decades and has been subject to extensive academic inquiry. Despite this, the diverse legal instruments developed to combat human trafficking, as well as the large body of scholarship dedicated to its research, have generally come short in targeting the institutional structures that enable trafficking and that turn this phenomenon into one of the pressing moral and political challenges of today?s global economy. In this seminar we will study, explore and develop a complementary anti-trafficking approach: a labor approach to trafficking. The labor approach focuses on market inequalities between employers and employees, and seeks to devise ways to transform the bargaining playing field. Such transformations can occur through traditional unionization of workers or through other means that address structural causes of inequality and worker vulnerability such as migration governance, labour law enforcement, and corporate social responsibility. In this seminar students will be introduced to the legal concept of human trafficking in international law and the history that led to its current legal formulation, and focus on a labor respons to human trafficking. The course is informed by the research of the TraffLab ( research project (ERC). 


The International Law of Work

Prof. Guy Mundlak Tel Aviv University 

Young women labor stitching jeans in Bangladesh; fishermen in Southern United States losing their jobs to Vietnam; care live-ins work around the clock; construction workers in Germany remain unemployed at the time Polish workers are being posted in Germany; consumers boycott Nike, but hesitate before paying premium prices for fair trade coffee; trade unions around the world support their fellow dock-workers in the Liverpool port. What do we make of these examples?

As labor and capital markets transcend domestic borders, the objectives of labor law can no longer be confined solely to actions within the nation state. The purpose of this course is twofold. First, to identify the diverse components of international employment and labour law, the institutions, the claims and the methods for advancing social protection to workers world-wide. This inquiry spans beyond traditional instruments that are associated with labor law, and includes trade law, private international law, international human rights and corporate social responsibility. It further seeks to embed the study of legal instruments in the broader economic and sociological debates on globalization. The second goal is to critically assess how international developments affect domestic labor law and our perception of the ethical and economic values that underscore this body of law.

Course Objectives-

To understand the debates about globalization

To embed legal dilemmas in social and economic context To test our moral intuitions about dilemmas of global justice

To piece together the various components of the loose body of law that we designate as international labor law.

To start from the local premises of labor law we are familiar with and to test them in the move from the national to the international


International and Comparative Refugee Law

Adv. Mirjam Strend - Tel Aviv Unviersity 

At the end of 2021, a record 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR?). The public and political debate on state obligations towards asylum seekers and refugees has been highly divisive, both in Israel and worldwide. This course examines the international legal framework for refugee protection, including the refugee definition and case law from leading domestic jurisdictions interpreting its different elements, as well as the rights allocation regime in the Refugee Convention and its interrelation with international human rights law. By looking critically at the question who is and is not protected under international refugee law and what rights they are entitled to, the course enables students to engage with the balance between refugee?s rights and state interests struck by international refugee law and the extent to which this regime can address current challenges.The course will consist of two parts. Part 1 will address the different elements of the refugee definition as well as exclusion grounds and their interpretation in the case law of leading domestic jurisdictions. Part 2 will examine the rights allocation regime of the Refugee Convention and its interrelation with international human rights law by delving into several case studies of recent policies in Israel and the world. Case studies will include the right to non-refoulement and safe third country agreements, detention policies and limitations on the right to free movement, the right to work and social security and the right to education.


The Law’s Role for the Emergence and Democratization of European Society

Prof. Dr. Armin Von Bogdandy - Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

This course on European Law will show how it contributed to the emergence and democratization of European society. Students will get a thorough introduction to the legal developments of the last 70 years in this key. This should give a new and deeper understanding of historical events, legislation, judgments and scholarship. A core issue will be how today the European society struggles against authoritarian tendencies in some of its member states. The course will draw parallels to how the Israeli society developed in the same time span.


Food Law and Policy

Prof. Emily Broad Leib - Harvard Law School

This course will examine how laws shape what we eat. In recent years, news stories have covered cellular meat, warning labels on unhealthy food products, the climate impact of agriculture, and skyrocketing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other supply chain disruptions. This course will put these issues in context through an examination of the laws that govern the foods we grow, transport, distribute, buy, cook, eat, and waste. Topics we will address include food safety regulation; the environmental, health, and safety impacts of industrial food production; emerging technologies in food; food security and food access; and food-related health impacts such as diet-related disease. We will look at food law and policy in the United States and Israel, as well as other international examples. The reading materials for will be provided in a course reader, and will include various cases, laws, book chapters, media articles, and scholarly articles that present diverse viewpoints on some of the controversial topics presented.


International Law

Prof. Aeyal Gross, Dr. Eliav Lieblich & Dr. Natalie Davidson – Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv University's International Law Workshop serves as a forum in which leading international law scholars, from Israel and abroad, present their works in progress and address past and contemporary challenges to international law. The workshop also provides TAU students (including LL.M. and Ph.D students) with the opportunity to read and comment on presented and classic texts. Students are assigned to write six reaction papers and engage with the authors during the workshop's sessions.


Varieties of Constitutionalism: Democratic, Autocratic, Populist

Dr. Felix Petersen

Karl Loewenstein (1957) distinguished normative, nominal and semantic constitutions. Particularly important is the distinction of the first and the third, that is, between an effective constitution controlling political power and government according to democratic principles (normative constitution), and a pseudo-constitution serving autocrats and dictators to disguise their undemocratic rule with the normative power of constitutionalism (semantic constitution). Today, the perspective on constitutionalism is more nuanced. Scholars agree that constitutions can play a relevant role under both democracy and autocracy, as they legitimize political power, coordinate the political process, or assist in co-opting social elites, irrespective of the regime.

The course provides a comparative overview of modern constitutionalism, covering a variety of political systems. Focusing on the liberating potential of constitutions and their role in maintaining political power, we trace the conceptual evolution of constitutionalist thought and the historical-institutional transformation of constitutional government. Students will apply the theoretical knowlegde in case studies (US, Israel, Turkey, Hungary, Germany, Russia).


Online Speech Governance on Private Platforms

Prof. Kate Klonick - St. John’s University Law School

This course will explore the intersection of public, private, and platform law in governing online speech on major transnational user generated content platforms, such as Meta, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Reddit and others.


Health and Human Rights

Dr. Melanie Levy - Tel Aviv University

This course provides an opportunity to explore ways in which human health is interrelated with human rights. It studies and assesses governmental obligations related to health under international human rights law. The course begins by examining the emergence of health and human rights as a distinct field. Following this, it considers the meaning of the international right to health, stressing the interactions between civil and political rights, on the one hand, and economic, social, and cultural rights, on the other. Although the course focuses broadly on health and human rights issues, special consideration is given to the right to health as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The course also refers to other international instruments (e.g., International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women), regional instruments (e.g., European Convention on Human Rights), national constitutions and legislation, as well as relevant case law.


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict - two points of view

Dr. Daphna Shraga - UN

The course will examine selected international legal questions at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will place the legal debate in a historical-political context, and analyze the legal questions from two vantage points and two parallel, competing national narratives - an Israeli and Palestinian. The legal questions examined will include the origin and root causes of the conflict, the first Israeli- Arab war of 1948 - the War of Independence for the Jews and the Nakba for the Palestinians; the "birth" of the Palestinian refugee problem and the legal aspects of the "right of return", the legal status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (following the "disengagement"), the applicability of the laws of occupation and the Fourth Geneva Convention, in particular, the legality of settlements under international law, the right to self-determination, the Oslo Accords and the status of Palestine in the United Nations.


Criminal Justice in Israel

Prof. Kenneth Mann

This course will focus on central characteristics of the criminal legal process in Israel. We will look at Israeli legal process in comparative perspective, using United States case law as a backdrop for identifying critical issues in criminal justice. The course will give special emphasis to a ?downside- up? empirical view of how the legal process actually operates in police stations, prosecutors? offices, the courts and in prisons. We will develop an empirical model of criminal justice, and compare it with law-in-the books. Emphasis will be given to the important differences in criminal justice for the poor as compared to the rich, and how those differences become evident at different stages of the criminal process, such as in plea bargaining, the conduct of criminal trials, sentencing and in appeals. Special attention will also be given to lawyers? ethics in criminal defense representation and prosecutorial advocacy. We will also look at use of administrative detention in matters related to national security offenses, refugee entry and illegal immigration. Overall we will try to identify distinctive aspects of the Israeli legal process as compared to the American legal process.


Climate Change and Human Rights: Litigation, Regulation, and Advocacy

Dr. César Rodríguez-Garavito - New York University School of Law

As the climate emergency intensifies, rights-based climate cases – litigation that is based on human rights law – are becoming an increasingly important tool for securing more ambitious climate action. This offers a systematic analysis of the universe of these cases known as human rights and climate change cases. By combining readings and in-class exercises about theory, empirical documentation, and strategic debates involving scholars and practitioners from around the world, the course covers the roots, legal innovations, empirical richness, impact, and challenges of this dynamic field of sociolegal practice.


**These are the courses that are being offered during the 2022-2023 academic year. Courses are subject, and likely, to change year to year. Applicants will be sent a final course list once it is available.

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