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International Law of Equality and Discrimination - LAWS8391
 Basser Steps

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Pre-requisite: Academic Program must be 9200 or 9210 or 9230 or 5740 or 9211 or 5211 or 9231 or 5231 or 9220 or 5750.
Excluded: JURD7412, JURD7691, JURD7792, LAWS3412, LAWS8392
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


Equality and the principle of non-discrimination are central to the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms. This course explores the fundamental principles of the international law of equality and non-discrimination and their place in human rights law. It also examines the application of these principles to selected contemporary circumstances. The course focuses particularly on sex, disability and race discrimination, looking closely at gross or entrenched violations, comparing the approaches of various domestic nondiscrimination law regimes and analysing the main policy debates. Special attention is given to the role and accountability at law of non-state actors. Several eminent guest speakers will address the class on particular topics.

This course is also available to students undertaking relevant postgraduate non-law degree programs at UNSW, provided such enrolment is approved by the appropriate non-law Faculty.

LLM Specialisations

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

  • To examine and analyse the main legal concepts and principles of the international law of equality and non-discrimination
  • To apply these concepts and principles to specific situations and relationships in which inequality exists and unlawful discrimination commonly occurs
  • To evaluate critically the mechanisms in use to correct inequality and combat discrimination
  • To assess the effectiveness of anti-discrimination law as a means of eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting equality

Main Topics

The course includes selected aspects of each of the following key areas;
  • Theories of equality
  • The principle of equality: conceptual and historical background
  • The prohibition on discrimination
  • Concepts in anti-discrimination: prohibited grounds and special measures
  • The International Bill of Human Rights
  • Discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation
  • Race, religion, ethnicity and discrimination
  • Indigenous peoples and discrimination
  • Discrimination on the basis of age.
  • New grounds of discrimination: disability and other developments
  • International mechanisms for implementation and compliance
  • Comparing and contrasting domestic implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination principles
  • Competing claims: business perspectives on anti-discrimination in employment
  • Advocacy for equality, including litigation


Class Participation Preparation and engagement in class 20%
Short answer questions 10%
Research essay 5,000 - 6,500 words 70%

Course Texts

Course Materials must be purchased form the UNSW Bookshop.
Additional materials may be distributed during classes. A list of required and suggested reading for the course will be made available closer to the commencement of the course.



Refer to Course Outline provided by lecturer at the beginning of session.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.