New Master's Programme in Constitutional Law and Human Rights

A new international programme in constitutional law and human rights will be offered at the Department of Law this autumn. Markus Naarttijärvi is senior lecturer at the department and head of the new programme together with senior lecturer Karin Åström.

Why a master's programme in constitutional law and human rights?
- Because constitutional law and human rights are areas of law where some of the most pressing issues of our time are decided. We live in uncertain times and the need for lawyers with a solid understanding of the role of legal constructs such as the rule of law, constitutionalism and human rights is greater than ever. Both grasping these issues as such, but also having the ability to actually apply and use these concepts in legal practice and through judicial enforcement has become increasingly important for lawyers in many different fields. The programme also plays to the strengths of our department as we have a very active group of scholars interested in constitutional and human rights issues. Since we are relatively small we are also able to really weave together different competences and approaches into a coherent whole in what I think will be a very solid master’s programme.

This will be the department's first master's programme available for international students. What are your thoughts on that?
- It’s exciting and something we really wanted to offer our international students. I think it will lead to a good mix of viewpoints and experiences that will be great for both our Swedish and international students. 

What are your hopes and expectations on the new programme?
- I really hope we get a great and diverse group of motivated students excited about the programme. I know the teachers they will meet are excited, and I personally really look forward to discussing the issues I face in my own research with the students in a more comprehensive way. I expect that at some point they will beg me to stop talking.

The programme contains three courses (and a final independent written essay), which also can be read as independent courses: rule of law, constitutionalism and fundamental principles; human rights law; and balance of power and constitutional enforcement. Information from the theachers resposible of each course can be found below.

Markus Naarttijärvi and Per Bergling about Rule of law, constitutionalism and fundamental principles:

- This course will provide students with an opportunity to study in depth certain key concepts of constitutional law and the legal structure and principles underpinning democratic societies. The course will adress the creation and legitimisation of constitutional orders, the role of constitutions in a multi-layered constitutional system such as the EU, and the tension between legal limits, political decision making and popular will. We will discuss and analyse recent developments such as Brexit and Catalonia as well as the challenges to constitutional principles brought on by populism, security crises and new technologies. A significant portion of the course will adress the concept of Rule of Law as a normative goal, precondition and means for reform, as well as how compliance and non-compliance with rule of law standards can be measured and evaluated in different political and legal systems and different phases of democratisation and reform.

Fanny Holm about Human Rights Law:

- This course addresses the global rise in legal protection of individuals and groups, at international and constitutional levels, that took off as a response to atrocities of the Second World War. Human rights law has grown into a complex system of regional and international institutions and legal frameworks. Comprehensive catalogues of rights and remedies for individuals as well as different groups are by now well established, yet normative and political controversies remain. These will provide starting points for exciting discussions during the course.  

Mattias Derlén and Johan Lindholm
about Balance of Power and Constitutional Enforcement:

- We are constantly reminded how deeply affected society is by national and international actors wielding public power. In recent years, lawyers and non-lawyers alike have “rediscovered" the importance of constitutional rules governing the division of power between actors and providing a bridge between words on paper and actual, protected rights. The course Balance of Power and Constitutional Enforcement addresses these classical and topical issue using a comparative approach, discussing the issues by using examples from different legal systems. We look forward to great discussions.