This course provides a theoretical and historical introduction to human rights, on the premise that a sound understanding of contemporary practice and debates requires grounding in their historical and theoretical roots and foundations. We will focus especially on the practical and political implications of human rights in an attempt to understand how and why they matter for what actually happens in world politics as opposed to what one might wish would happen. We will ask questions such as: What obligations do states have to defend and guarantee human rights at home? How are those obligations enforced, if at all? To what degree do such obligations extend internationally? Who decides when international intervention is justified and what are the pitfalls associated with humanitarian action? Is religion compatible to secular views of universal rights? Did the industrial revolution and socialist tradition contribute to human rights? And, are there tensions between security and universal rights?.