Global Poverty, Human Rights and Development


University-level education (Bachelor, Master, or equivalent), including career professionals, with a strong interest in human rights, poverty and development.

No prior knowledge of the subject matter required.


The course explores the nexus and different dimensions of the crisis of poverty, (under)development and human rights from a historical, institutional and policy-making perspective.

Conceiving poverty alleviation as an essential human rights obligation, this course examines domestic and international variables that have occasioned and exacerbated world poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. The course also formulates and highlights what duties states and international institutions owe to the poor and the victims of global injustice.


The course is led by George Forji Amin (PhD candidate/tutor), International Law, University of Helsinki. Two guest lectures, one by Professor Lauri Hannikainen and the other by Dr Manuel Fonseca, both specialists in International Law at the University of Helsinki.


By the end of the course, participants should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the correlation between the three concepts (Poverty, Human Rights and Development), especially with regard to global order and global governance.
  • understand reasons behind the failures of development initiatives during the last half century.
  • demonstrate an understanding of theories of development, and current policy debates geared at addressing the crisis of poverty and underdevelopment.
  • understand the role and politics of institutions (international organisations and international financial institutions) in driving the discourse and debates around the three concepts.
  • understand actors (both domestic and international) responsible for the crisis of poverty and underdevelopment, especially in the third world.
  • develop independent opinions on the subject with a possibility to carry out independent research on topics of interest.


  • case study analysis
  • videos, short documentaries and commentaries
  • moot court / group work
  • debate / Panel Talk
  • PowerPoints

For key themes, students will be provided with three relevant articles, to freely choose one. Students are expected to submit a half-page summary of one of the articles prior to some of the sessions. The summaries must be uploaded on the university platform (Moodle).

More instructions will be provided during the first lesson.


Grading scale:
5 = excellent
4 = very good
3 = good
2 = average
1 = poor
0 = fail

Summaries: 40%
Presentation: 10%
Excursion and active participation: 10%
Final exam: 40%


City Centre Campus

Course schedule to be updated.


Compulsory reading

  • Pogge, Thomas W. World poverty and human rights. Polity, 2008. (selected chapters)
  • Sen, Amartya. Development as freedom. Oxford Paperbacks, 2001. (selected chapters)
  • Pogge, Thomas. Freedom from poverty as a human right: Who owes what to the very poor? UNESCO, 2007.
  • O'Neill, Onora. 'Faces of hunger: An essay on poverty, justice, and development'. (1986). (selected parts).

Other key readings

  • Sengupta, Arjun. 'On the theory and practice of the right to development'. Human Rights Quarterly 24.4 (2002): 837–889.
  • Roth, Kenneth. 'Defending economic, social and cultural rights: Practical issues faced by an international human rights organization'. Human Rights Quarterly 26.1 (2004): 63–73.
  • Grindle, Merilee S. 'Good enough governance: poverty reduction and reform in developing countries'. Governance 17.4 (2004): 525–548.
  • Chetwynd, Eric, Frances Chetwynd, and Bertram Spector. 'Corruption and poverty: a review of recent literature'. Management Systems International 600 (2003): 5–16.
  • Woods, Ngaire, and Amrita Narlikar. 'Governance and the limits of accountability: The WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank'. International Social Science Journal 53.170 (2001): 569–583.
  • Waage, Jeff, et al. 'The Millennium Development Goals: a cross-sectoral analysis and principles for goal setting after 2015.' The Lancet 376.9745 (2010): 991–1023.