JUS5503 – Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism: Striking a Balance?

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This class will examine the evolving legal framework for balancing counter-terrorist actions with human rights perspectives. The War on Terror is considered to be a permanent state of emergency which has led to human rights violations. Students will study normative instruments from the UN and regional counter-terrorist institutions and juxtapose them with human rights standards and case law.  Dilemmas presented by conflicting interpretation of the scope of freedom of expression, the impact of removal of citizenship, the consequences of arbitrary detention, contradictions in Countering Violent Extremism policies, and the use of drones in targeted killing will be analyzed. Women's rights and children's rights will be discussed in the context of counter-terrorism. Students will be asked to identify best practices and articulate protection gaps.

Course Content: 

  • Definition of terrorism
  • Core Elements of Terrorism 
  • Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and the state of Permanent Emergency.
  • Overview of International Cooperation in UN, Europe, Africa, the Americas, Middle East, and Asia
  • The Relationship Between Human Rights, Constitutional Law, and Counter-Terrorism
  • Limitations on Human Rights and States of Emergency, Preventive and Precautionary Action
  • Human Rights Institutional Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism
  • Children’s Rights and prevention of terrorism
  • Counter-terrorism and freedom of expression
  • Counter-terrorism and Torture, Extraordinary Rendition, Enforced Disappearance & Non-Refoulement  
  • Use of Technology, Drones and the Law on Targeting in Counter-Terrorism Operations.
  • Financing of terrorism
  • Terrorism, counter-terrorism, and foreign fighters

For students enrolled in Rettsvitenskap (jus) (master - 5 år): Have you considered a specialization as part of your degree? The course is part of the profile Internasjonal rett.

Read more about profiles.

Learning outcome

Course Goals and Objectives: Students will gain knowledge:

  • a. In the normative instruments from the UN and regional counter-terrorist institutions
  • b. On the human rights impacts of counter-terrorism policies and practices
  • c. On specific issues arising in the interface between counter-terrorism law and human rights law, including freedom of expression, the impact of removal of citizenship, the consequences of arbitrary detention, protection of refugees, contradictions in Countering Violent Extremism policies, the use of drones in targeted killing, impact on women’s and children’s’ rights, etc.
  • d. On how to analyze policy documents and case law from UN and regional institutions.  


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

You may register for this course if you have admission to a Master's programme at UiO. All applicants must fill the formal prerequisites.
Priority is given to students on the Master of Philosophy programme in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights.

Students admitted to other Master's programmes may apply for guest student status.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Students must fill one of these requirements:

  • Passed 1st - 3rd year of the 5-years degree Master of Laws (Master i rettsvitenskap at UiO) (or exams that qualify for exemption for these) or
  • Hold a 5-years Master’s degree in Laws (Master i rettsvitenskap at UiO) or equivalent.

Exemptions from the formal prerequisites will be given to students with admission to the faculty's own exchange or master’s degree programmes. This rule does not apply to students with admission to other master’s degree programmes at the University of Oslo, unless otherwise agreed.

Recommended previous knowledge

An understanding of international law, the substance of individual human rights, and structures of major international organizations are recommended. This is an advanced course that builds upon these foundational elements.


The course is conducted through lectures, student assignments and seminars with oral presentations by students.


The examination consist of a term paper which should be handed in at the end of the semester. Students will be notified about the deadline and the examination question(s) in the beginning of the semester. Max. lenght of paper is 6000 words, papers with text exceeding the word limit will not be sent to grading.

In addition, students should hand in a draft paper with description of the topic in in the middle of the semester (one page). Delivery of the topic paper is mandatory. There is no grading, but students will receive useful comments from the teacher.

Use of sources and rules for citing.

Be sure that you are familiar with the use of sources and the rules for citing/quoting from others’ work
UiO uses a plagiarism checking tool as one of several instruments for detecting suspicion of cheating and attempted cheating.UiO uses a plagiarism checking tool as one of several instruments for detecting suspicion of cheating and attempted cheating.

Examination support material

All resources allowed.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Guidelines for the evaluation of grades at The Faculty of Law.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take this exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

There are special rules for resitting a passed examination in the master's programme in Law.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.


  • This course is possible to include in the Norwegian degree "Master i rettsvitenskap" from autumn 2012.
  • The course has replaced HUMR5503

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2013


Every other autumn starting 2013

Teaching language