Choose a topic you are interested in
Fiirst, choose a topic you are interested in or have some experience with. This will make the writing proceed more smoothly and quickly. You will, of course, want to write about humanrights from some analytic perspective, but the focus is entirely up to you. Next, do som research and narrow down your topic to a manageable problem that you think you canexplore in 12 pages. Find a number of primary and secondary sources that you can use tosupport your argument. The secondary sources should preferably be essays that can be readquickly. From these sources, try to extract some key ideas that can guide and support yourargument. Using these key ideas, formulate a few questions that you will be able to answerwith a clear and concise argument.Once you have achieved this, proceed to write a short introduction that outlines your centralproblem, your key questions, and your argumentative approach. Try to do this assystematically as possible, as this will guide the writing of your paper. Use each of the keyquestions, or possible sub-questions within your argument, to establish sections for yourpaper. You do not necessarily need to give these sections titles, but this can sometimes help.Before you begin writing the body of the essay, make sure that each section is accompaniedby quotes and references from your primary and secondary sources that you will include inyour argument. You may also find it helpful to include an example for each section, or youmay have a broad example in mind that applies to the entire paper (depending on yourtopic).
Finally, once you have written the introduction and body with sections, and you feelconfident in your argument, proceed to write a conclusion. The conclusion should quicklysummarize you argument, resting on the key questions and your response to them. Typically,a conclusion will end with one new point that encapsulates the paper and suggests thepossibility of further research on the subject of your paper. Frequently, writing theconclusion will force you to go back to the introduction and body of the paper to makerevisions for clarity, style, and argument.Remember, this is a paper on the relation between human rights and law. This, of course,can be very broadly construed, but both of these should be apparent in your topic, your keyquestions, and the sources you turn to for support. If, at any point, you find yourself stuckfor ideas, sources, or examples, please feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best tooffer suggestions.As a possible example of a paper topic, and a brief overview of the process, consider thefollowing:I might choose for my topic: police brutality in the United States. This is an obvious humanrights issue, and is directly connected to legal questions. I might refer to documents thatoutline certain human rights in relation to state oppression,fairness of treatment, and theduties of government, such as the US Bill of Rights or Magna Carta. I might consider asfurther primary sources those writers that we have studied in class who take intoconsideration the right to resist or rebel against the state in certain circumstances. As a secondary source, I might consult Costas Douzinas’ “Philosophy and the Right toResistance.” From there, I would identify key questions, such as What are the duties ofgovernment? When is it right to rebel? Is resistance a natural right? Is there a limit tviolence? What are the goals of revolution? Each of these questions is accompanied by anumber of concepts that I would want to use to formulate an argument that responds tothesequestions, such as: duty, right, resistance, limit, violence, state, etc.As I create my argument, which might be phrased as “There is a subjective right toresistance, as argued by Locke, Kant, and Arendt, which is based on certain moral andethical imperatives that are in excess of any positive law, and which therefore supports themovement to resist police brutality in the US.” I would then apply my argument to severalexamples, including such events as the Cincinnati riots of 2001, the 2014-15 Fergusonunrest, the 2015 Baltimore riots, and the 2016 Milwaukee and Charlotte riots.