Human Rights Violations in Germany: Gender, Colonial Crimes & Transnational Corporations

The monitoring and protection of human rights is a major challenge for the international community. The course introduces the philosophical foundations of human rights as a concept. It addresses the content of human rights as well as different methods developed at international level to protect them.

Course periodJan. 3, 2022 - Jan. 21, 2022
Category Law & Economics
Course levelsBachelor
Class size

max. 15 participants

Credits and certificate

Participants will receive 5 ECTS credit points and a certificate if they attend classes regularly (at least 80% attendance) and participate actively. Additionally, six weeks after the end of the course a Transcript of Records is issued by Humboldt-Universität.

Application deadline Nov. 15, 2021, or when participant quota is reached
Course fee730.00 Euro | (excl. program fee and discounts)

Can human rights be universal? What exclusions and injustices are inherent in law that treats everyone “equal” in unequal societies? How is it that some human rights have been finally recognized, whereas others are continuously dismissed? Which actors are involved and why? What role do power and knowledge play? Who ‘wrote’ ‘the’ history of human rights? Who was excluded from this process?

Departing from an interdisciplinary perspective the Winter School will give an insight into Critical Human Rights Discourse and Litigation in Germany. On the basis of concrete human rights cases students will learn about the different bodies and instruments of human rights protection in Germany, their practical advantages, challenges and inherent exclusions.

By focusing on specific sectors (Gender, Colonial Crimesand Transnational Corporations) and their intersectional effects students are taught to see the canon of rights protected within the legal system as constructed and thus embedded in social and political processes of deliberations on different levels. With the understanding that strategic human rights litigation is only one of the many tools used to forward social change and justice, we talk about how these legal strategies and instruments can and should be intertwined with grassroots political awareness campaigns, the creation of associations to strengthen visibility, investments in public relations and advocacy for change and justice within social movements. Studies concerning the impact of Strategic Public Litigation will be used in the discussion, potentially with representatives from NGOs involved in some of the relevant Public Interest Litigations.

Representative fundamental texts of critical legal theory will be read, discussed and applied to the German context. These are interactive courses that have participants practicing the shifts of perspective proposed by the authors of the texts as acts of resistance to the premises of objectivity, neutrality, reasonableness and universality of contemporary hegemonic law. The courses will be team taught and aim to create a platform for dialogue on equal terms. Class sessions will usually open with lecture and/or discussant presentation, case-oriented inquiry, theoretical exploration and class discussion of the topic/theme for the session.

Students will be able to communicate directly with Berlin NGO’s activists and state agencies in the field of human rights and anti-discrimination.

Syllabus will be available soon
Course structure

Academic lessons

  • You will receive a total of 45 hours (one lesson equals 45 minutes; 15 hours per week).
  • Lessons will comprise lectures, group work, discussion sessions, excursions


Schedule (Track B):

Tuesday: 9.00 am – 10.30 am & 11.00 am – 12.30 pm
Wednesday: 9.00 am – 10.30 am & 11.00 am – 12.30 pm
Thursday: 5.05 pm – 6.35 pm & 6.45 pm – 7.30 pm
Friday: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm & 3.20 pm – 4.50 pm


Cultural extra-curricular activities:

HUWISU offers a fine selection of interesting extra-curricular activities and aims to give all participants an unforgettable stay in Berlin. Your program includes excursions, sport activities and social gatherings providing you the opportunity to get to know the city, the university and your classmates better and to meet students from all parts of the world.

The costs for these offers are included in the course fees.

Activities and tours we offer regularly: Federal Chancellery, German Parliament, House of Representatives, Topography of Terror, Political Archive, Museum Island, Kreuzberg Tour, Daytrip to Potsdam, Ice Skating, Exhibitions, Farewell Party…

Language skills English: B2
Motivation Letter about one page in English
Student Profile

Advanced undergraduate students (in their final year) of all subjects with an academic background and a strong interest in Human Rights.

This course is taught in English, including readings in English. For the understanding of the texts and the discussions in class a language level B2 (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is required.

Participating students need to be at least 18 years old.

Karina Theurer, M.A. (Berlin) is a feminist lawyer and writer. She is director of the Institute for Legal Interventions at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and coordinates and teaches the Humboldt Law Clinic for Fundamental and Human Rights (HLCMR). Between 2010 and 2018 she was Research Fellow at the Chair of Public Law and Gender Studies at the Faculty of Law of Humboldt University and tought the Masters Program "Social Work as a Human Rights Profession" at the Alice-Salomon Hochschule. She studied Law at the Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg, the Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg und the Humboldt University (Graduate Prize for Academic Achievement in European and International Law). Her fields of specialisation include Feminst and Decolonial Legal Theory, Human Rights Litigation in Germany, Gender Equality, Sexualized Violence and Business & Human Rights. She holds a Master of Arts in "Interdisciplinary Latin American Studies", co-founded the bilingual literary magazine „alba.lateinamerika lesen“, translates poetry from Spanish to German and co-curated the symposium „(Post-)Colonial Injustice and Legal Interventions“ at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin.

Sarah Imani, M.A., LL.M. (NYU) is a qualified lawyer and legal researcher. Besides her studies at the University of Hamburg, Harvard University and Sorbonne/Paris, she is qualified for the bar in Germany and holds a Master of Arts in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford/ UK and a Master of Law from New York University (NYU)/ USA with a focus on international law and (international) legal theory. After her studies she worked inter alia for several years as a research fellow and senior lecturer in international law, international criminal law, international legal theory and human right law at the Faculty of Law in Hamburg and the Walther-Schücking-Institute for International Law, the oldest institute for public international law in Germany. Currently she is based in Berlin and works with the Institute for Legal Interventions at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) as a legal advisor. There, she coordinates ECCHR’s work on German and European colonial wrongs as well as post- and decolonial perspectives on the law. Her fields of specialization include international law, (international) legal theory and philosophy, human rights and international criminal law. As a member of the International Crimes and Accountability program of ECCHR, she worked on cases involving Germany’s responsibility for the victims of drone strikes in Yemen and the International Law Commission’s drafting process of the Convention of Crimes against Humanity. Her PhD project deals with international legal theory and Islamic international law and jurisprudence.

Claire Tixeire is Senior Legal Advisor at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), which she joined in 2011. At ECCHR, she co-leads the Critical Legal Training. She has worked on various casework, notably on the French case pending against the multinational Lafarge for crimes in Syria and is part of the Institute for Legal Intervention. Before joining ECCHR, from 2004 to 2011, Clarie Tixeire worked for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, seeking criminal accountability of US officials for war crimes and torture. At the same time in these years, she led the representation of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) before the United Nations in New York, particularly before the Security Council and the General Assembly, conducting numerous advocacy missions with human rights defenders from FIDH’s international network. Ms. Tixeire obtained her law degree from the University of Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and a master’s degree in Human Rights and Public Liberties from the University of Nanterre in Paris (Paris X). She holds diplomas in English Law, in International Law, and in International Humanitarian Law from the University of Kent at Canterbury (UKC), UK, and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada.

Michael Bader, LL.M. studied law at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and holds an LL.M. in Law, Development and Globalisation from SOAS, University of London. He is the co-founder of Refugee Law Clinic Leipzig and an editor of Völkerrechtsblog. After his legal traineeship in 2017, he joined the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in September 2019 as a Research Fellow in the Business and Human Rights program with a focus on corporate exploitation in global supply chains. Since September 2020, he is Bertha Justice Fellow in ECCHR’s Institute for Legal Intervention.

CoordinatorPierre Steuer/ Carmen Opolski/ Sanja Müssig
Contact detailsInternational Department
Unter den Linden 6
10999 Berlin

This course can be combined with: