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Master Programme

Dates: September 2017 - July 2018
Location: Saint Joseph University, Beirut (Lebanon)
For more information: arma@usj.edu.lb

Thematic Section 1: Democracy and Rights

This thematic section aims at setting the ground for critically understanding democracy and human rights both in theory and in practice. It is dedicated to the exploration of such issues as the state; democratic institutions, civil society, as well as different sets of rights (social, economic, civil and political).

These issues are approached from a variety of disciplines: International Relation, Sociology, History, Philosophy. The thematic section combines both the abstract (conceptual) understanding of the proposed topics, as well as the existing practices. Democracy will be examined as a mode of political organisation and not only in the form of the state. In this framework the interaction of the state and its institutions, civil society and its institutions, as well as other forms of societal organization will be examined from the perspective of their impact on the realisation of the public will. The interaction of these structures and their dynamics are determinants of their instrumentality. Hence an understanding of these dynamics is vital for developing a critical understanding of democracy and rights.

 

Thematic Section 2: Governance, Rule of Law and Constitutional Process

This thematic Section explores the relations between modes of governance, constitutional design and the dynamic of political change, focusing on the role of civil society and institutions devoted to promoting the consideration of its views. Institutions and civil society are central to the promotion and consolidation of democracy. In this context, the role of parliaments and constitutional courts is essential. However, the study of institutions should not only focus on their design but also on their practical application, locating them in a particular history and tradition. In this framework, the interaction between civil society and institutions is considered pivotal.

 

Thematic Section 3: Political Transitions to Democracy

Thematic Section 3 aims to explore the notion of political change against the backdrop of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. By looking into this series of events and comparing it to periods of political transition in other contexts, students will gain a better idea about how (un)helpful the concept of political change can really be to evaluate the developments in the Arab World in recent years. Once this basic framework has been posited, attention will be paid to key themes in contemporary Arab studies: state formation, regime type, authoritarianism and citizenship. This is done with the aim of providing further contextual background and conceptual tools to course participants.

 

Thematic Section 4: International Relations and the Global System of Human Rights Protection

Thematic Section IV explores the relations between one the one hand, international relations and human rights and, on the other hand, international and regional human rights obligations and national and regional mechanisms of human rights protection. Thematic Section IV will include a particular focus on the protection of the human rights of groups which have been identified as requiring particular protection such as migrants, children and national and ethnic minorities. The waves of democratic transition in Southern Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe have shown us the importance of institutional change to ensure democracy. Today, what is important is not so much to "make revolution" as to set up strong institutions capable of leading political actors to respect the principles of democracy. This is the well-known argument of the “virtuous circle”. Political life is virtuous not because the actors are virtuous but because institutions are good.

 

Programme

Thematic section 1: Democracy and Rights

  • Legacy of Colonialism (2cr)
  • Arab Political Thought (2cr)
  • Democracy and Human Rights (4cr)

Thematic Section 2: Governance, Rule of Law and Constitutional Process

  • Comparative Constitutional Systems (4cr)
  • Political Parties and Pressure Groups (4cr)

Thematic Section 3: Political Transitions to Democracy

  • Democratisation and Liberalisation (4cr)
  • Transition Processes in MENA (4cr)

Thematic section 4: International Relations and the Global System of Human Rights Protection

  • International Human Rights law and Protection Mechanisms (3cr)
  • Vulnerable persons and groups Human Rights (3cr)

Courses total 30 Credits. An additional 30 credits module will be acquired through fieldwork, internship and a research paper in the subject matter.

 

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