A Human Rights Based Approach to the Covid-19 Pandemic

Manfred Nowak
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2020W, scientific seminar (SEW), 2.0 ECTS, 1.0 semester hours, course number S03568


This seminar will apply the human rights perspective to one of the most current and pressing global challenges with implications for years to come. Focusing on the global Covid-19 pandemic, this seminar analyzes the complex interplay of the international response to Covid-19 and the international human rights regime.

In this current crisis, governments are required to protect their citizens’ human rights, including the right to health and the right to life. Nevertheless, restrictive measures often severely limit individual rights and freedoms, ranging from the freedom of movement and assembly, to the right to privacy and to work and earn a living.

Emphasizing a human rights based approach, this seminar will provide students with an opportunity to investigate the effectiveness of laws and policies in line with international human rights standards in addressing the Covid-19 crisis.  

The seminar is divided in the following phases:

1. Preparatory Reading 

Prior to the first meeting, students are asked to familiarise themselves with the human rights based approach to the Covid-19 pandemic by reading articles on the Human Rights Preparedness blog (https://gchumanrights.org/preparedness.html).

2. Introduction Lecture

15 October 2020, 15.30 - 18.00

In an interactive lecture, Manfred Nowak will introduce the students to the human rights based approach to the Covid-19 pandemic response.

3. Submission of Paper Outline

Until 4 November 2020

Following the introductory meeting, students will be asked to focus on one aspect of the human rights based approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as a specific country case study, to deal with in their papers. For this, students are required to submit a short (max. 1 page) outline of their paper, including above all a clear research question and methodology aimed at answering this question.

4. Introduction and Discussion of Seminar Paper Topics

12 November 2020, 15:30 - 18:00

On the basis of the previously submitted paper outlines, students are requested to present their chosen topic and discuss this with the lecturer and their peers in class. 

5. Submission of Paper

13 January 2021

Students will submit a seminar paper of 15.000 characters including spaces. 

6. Reading of all Seminar Papers

14-27 January 2021

Students are requested to read all papers of their colleagues with a view to provide critical feedback. 

7. Presentations

28 January 2021, 09:15 - 18:00

This session will consist of paper presentations, discussion and critical feedback by colleagues. Students will make a short (5 minutes) presentation (with Power Point) of their paper followed by critical feedback and discussion among all students.

Students from other faculties or universities will receive a place on the course subject to capacities.

Examination Modalities

Paper outlines are due on 4 November 2020, and the final papers are due on 13 January 2021.

Formal requirements for seminar papers:

Chicago Manual of Style: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/using_research/documents/20191212CitationChart.pdf 

Save PDF as: NameFirstName_TITLE

Cover page with name, course, Matrikelnumber, date, title. Please also include page numbers and a table of content (if needed). Name and course must be on each page of the document.

Students will be graded on the basis of:

(1) their individual papers,

(2) the presentation of the papers and

(3) their feedback on the papers of their colleagues and joint discussion.


Human Rights Preparedness Blog (Global Campus of Human Rights): https://gchumanrights.org/preparedness.html


15 October 2020, 15:30–18:00 Seminar Room 2
12 November 2020, 15:30–18:00 Seminar Room 2
28 January 2021, 09:15–18:00 Seminar Room 8

Course Enrolment

From 04 September 2020, 09:56
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Deepening / Application

Individual courses: possible