Mila Versteeg : Courses and Seminars
Comparative Constitutional Design Seminar
In this seminar, we will explore the considerations and challenges in designing a constitution. The first part of this seminar draws on leading legal, economic and political theories to explore the origins of constitutions: why do countries adopt written constitutions? And what explains their constitutional choices? The second part of the seminar explores different substantive constitutional design topics, or the different ways in which constitutions deal with rights, checks and balances, and the protection of ethnic minorities. The last part of the seminar addresses potential implications of constitutional design choices. We draw on interdisciplinary research to explore an important puzzle in constitutional design: why do governments comply with their constitutional commitments? And to what extent can smart constitutional design aid compliance? Every student has to select one country and become an expert on this country’s constitution over the course of the quarter. In the class discussions, students will have to apply various constitutional design theories to their country of expertise, and bring insights from this country into the discussion.
International Human Rights Law
This course is an introduction to international human rights law, covering the major instruments and institutions that operate on the international plane. It includes discussion of the conceptual underpinnings of human rights, the structure of the United Nations System, the major international treaties, regional human rights machinery, and the interplay of national and international systems in enforcing human rights. It will also provide an introduction to international relations theories: When and why do states commit to international human rights standards? And when does international human rights law actually make a difference on the ground? To illustrate these themes, the course will draw when possible on current international events covered in the media.