Faculty of Law

Monash University

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2012
Coordinator(s)Professor Sarah Joseph


For postgraduate Law discontinuation dates, please see http://www.law.monash.edu.au/current-students/postgraduate/pg-disc-dates.html


The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is the key global human rights treaty which addresses civil and political rights. It is the key treaty for the purposes of the operation of existing human rights legislation in Australia in Victoria (the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities), the ACT (The Human Rights Act), and at the federal level (the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act). It is also a key treaty for the purposes of the operation of the interpretative principle under which judges should interpret statutes, where possible, in light of Australia's human rights obligations.

The unit will cover all elements of the ICCPR, including general principles (eg. Brief history, the role of the UN Human Rights Committee, the impact of cultural relativism, positive and negative obligations, obligations of conduct and obligations of result), and admissibility criteria under the Optional Protocol (eg. requirements regarding subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and territorial jurisdiction; the rule regarding the exhaustion of domestic remedies).

The majority of the unit will focus on the substantive interpretations of the civil and political rights contained in the ICCPR, including a focus on the right to self determination (Article 1), right to life (Article 6), freedom from torture and other ill treatment (Articles 7 and 10), freedom from arbitrary detention (Article 9), freedom of movement (article 12), procedural rights for deportees (Article 13), right to fair trial (Article 14), the principle of legality (Article 15), the right to privacy (Article 17), freedom of religion (Article 18), freedom of expression (Article 19), prohibition on hate speech (Article 20), freedoms of assembly (Article 21) and association (Article 22), family rights (Article 23) and childrens' rights (Article 24), the right of political participation (Article 25), the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law (Article 26, and minority rights (Article 27).


Upon completion of this unit, students should:

  1. develop an extensive understanding of the nature and scope of civil and political rights
  2. understand the scope of Australia's obligations under the ICCPR
  3. understand the jurisprudence established under the ICCPR
  4. be able to critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of that jurisprudence
  5. be able to apply that knowledge to fact situations that they may come across in Australia
  6. understand the admissibility requirements for complaints under the Optional Protocol.


Research assignment (3,750 words): 50%
Take-home examination (3,750 words): 50%
Research assignment (7500 words): 100%
(subject to the approval of the Chief Examiner)

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Sarah Joseph

Contact hours

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)