First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Economics and Political Science
Course unit
EPP3050132, A.A. 2015/16

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2014/15

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
EP1980, Degree course structure A.Y. 2013/14, A.Y. 2015/16
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 6.0
Type of assessment Mark
Department of reference Department of Political Science, Law, and International Studies
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction English
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge SARA PENNICINO IUS/21

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses SPS/04 Polticial Science 6.0

Course unit organization
Period First semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 6.0 45 105.0 No turn

Start of activities 01/10/2015
End of activities 23/01/2016
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2013 course timetable

Examination board
Examination board not defined

Prerequisites: Knowledge of International Human Rights Law is required
Target skills and knowledge: This course aims at deepening the knowledge of the procedure/cycle related to the preparation, organization, carrying out and assessment of international operations on human rights monitoring and electoral observation. It also aims to enable students to acquire/develop both theoretical and operative expertise which are a basic requirement in order to take part in the above mentioned activities with international, governmental and non-governmental institutions.
Examination methods: Students’ preparation will be assessed through a written exam composed of both a conceptual analysis and a practical exercise reflecting on issues presented and discussed in class.

Class attendance is not mandatory. Accordingly, attending and non attending students will take the SAME exam.
However, it should be noted that attending students' performance in the test will highly benefit from the participation in role plays and case study based exercises carried out in class.
Assessment criteria: The assignments will evaluate the students’ ability to demonstrate: knowledge of applicable conceptual frameworks; critical analysis and argumentation on topical issues; and skilled application of theories to the practice of human rights monitoring and election observation.
Course unit contents: The teaching is organized in three parts:
I. Introduction (week 1 and week 2)
Part I will offer an introduction to concepts relevant to both human rights monitoring and electoral observation. More specifically, the following points will be addressed:
a) Methodology;
b) Definition of key concepts such as monitoring, observation, fact finding
c) Identification of approaches to monitoring and observing, their objectives and expected results;
d) International, Regional, and Local standards and relevant violations (i.e. human rights abuses, human rights violations and electoral malpractices)
e) Who carries out the monitoring and the observation at the different levels?

I. Electoral Observation (week 3, week 4, week 5)
The aims of this part of the course are: (i) to provide an overview of this rapidly expanding area of public policy; (ii) to address the legal basis and the underlying concepts, methods and techniques used for electoral observation; (iii) to develop applied skills in analyzing electoral cycles and correlated malpractices.
At the end of the course students will be able to:
- Describe how elections fit in a democratic process
- List international treaties and other instruments relevant to electoral observation
- Discuss human rights that are specifically relevant to elections
- Describe the electoral cycle
- List electoral stakeholders
- Classify electoral malpractices and remedies
- Identify observing and reporting tools
- Discuss the role of electoral observation in countries undergoing a transition towards democracy, in post conflict countries and in consolidated democracies
More specifically, classes will cover the following areas:
a) Introduction
- Overview and Methodology
b) Criteria Relevant to the Assessment of Genuine Elections
- International and Regional Instruments To Which a Country Committed To
- National Legislation
c) Fundamental Concepts in Electoral Observation
- Electoral Cycle
- Electoral Stakeholders
- Principles of Observation
- Observing and Reporting Tools
d) Other Remedies
- Electoral Administration
- Regulating Campaign Financing
- Transparency and the Role of the Media (Mass and Social)

II. Human Rights Monitoring (Week 6, week 7, week 8)
This part of the course will enable students to acquire knowledge and skills on the concepts, aims and strategies of human rights monitoring. Through the application of theories to practical human rights issues, situations and settings, the course will cover essential approaches to the identification of violations, information-gathering, interviewing, and measuring implementation. It will also deal with preparation of reports, cooperation with international monitoring mechanisms and follow-up.
At the end of the course students will be able to:
- Define human rights monitoring
- Contextualise its use
- Understand its components
- Categorise monitoring actors and processes
- Review documentation and reports
- Assess specific human rights situations
- Analyse sources of information and fact-finding
- Identify the most appropriate means and strategies for monitoring
- Apply principles and methods to operative situations

More specifically, classes will cover:
a) Concepts and components of human rights monitoring
- Applicable human rights standards
- Mandate/scope
- Basic principles
- Follow-up
b) Settings and outputs
- Who monitors human rights
- Documenting human rights implementation
c) Resources and tools
- Where to look for information
- How to monitor
- Human Rights reporting
Throughout the course students will be testing practical application through group work (case studies, mock field interviews and data gathering; report writing).
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Regular class attendance is strongly recommended. The course will consist of lectures, discussions, practical workshops, role plays, case studies, and student-led presentations. In all areas, the active participation of students is considered an essential element of teaching, learning and assessment.

A series of seminars held by experts in the field of Human Rights Monitoring and Electoral Observation will complement the course program. The relevant calendar will be published on the MA elearning platform in due time.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Indications on study materials for each part of the course specific readings will be provided in due time. All information on the references to the study materials can be found on the Human Rights Centre MA platform.

NOTE THAT: with regard to the exam, study material for non attending students consist of the material available on the MA elearning platform

Texts of reference
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Training Manual on Human Rights Monitoring, New York/Geneva: OHCHR, both editions of 2001 and 2011; available at
- Jacobsen Anette Faye (ed), Human Rights Monitoring: A Field Mission Manual, Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2008.
- O’Flaherty Michael (ed), The Human Rights Field Operation, Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2007.
- O’Flaherty Michael and Ulrich George (eds.), The Professional Identity of the Human Rights Field Officer, Aldershot/Burlington: Ashgate, 2010.
- University of Nottingham - Human Rights Law Centre, Guiding Principles for Human Rights Field Officers, Working in Conflict and Post-Conflict Environments:
- OSCE. 2010. Election Observation Handbook. 6th Ed.
- Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of conduct for International Election Observers
- Venice Commission/CoE Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters
- Commonwealth of Independent States Convention
- Guidelines for African Union Electoral Observations and Monitoring Missions
- Susan D. Hyde, Catch Us If You Can: Election Monitoring and International Norm Diffusion, in American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 2 (April • 2011), pp. 356-369
- Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira, Why ‘Professionalizing’ International Election Observation Might Not be Enough to Ensure Effective Election Observation, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2012
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)