Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies: Social Justice Perspectives

About Human Rights, Gender and Conflict Studies: Social Justice Perspectives (SJP)


When power starts to shift dramatically, whether in Latin America, North Africa or elsewhere, advancing social justice can prove a contradictory process. Justice, the rule of law, peace and equal rights ­- including sexual and reproductive health rights, the right to development or the right to political participation - may be promised, whilst simultaneously injustices, violence and exclusions continue to shape people’s daily lives.

(Photo: M. Omer)

Advancing global promises such as safety, human rights and human security, including food security, requires a critical engagement with the realities of peoples’ social exclusion. These tensions between the aspirations and realities of social justice form the starting point of this Major.

The SJP Major offers critical reflections on issues relating to gender, human rights, conflict and social mobilization, which are all key to social justice. The Major goes beyond the normative, often oppositional conceptualizations of social justice which frequently take a simplified focus on either economic inequalities, or identities, or symbolic representations. Instead, the Major examines the processes through which diverse inequalities, exclusions and asymmetries persist and are reproduced in societies. We do this by criticizing the dichotomous representation of the global and local, personal and political, individual and structural. We also examine universalist and cultural-relativist perspectives on social justice, as well as perspectives that depart entirely from such binary understandings.

See the Academic Calendar for more information about this Major.

A short informational video 

Target group

The Major offers a broad range of analytical and practical skills to young and mid-career professionals and aspiring academics interested and engaged in human rights, women and gender and in peace work, whether in government, research or civil society organizations.

Find out more about the ISS student body

And take a look at this short Oxfam video on 'The rich and the rest'


Within the MA programme students have an option to specialize further. Take a look at the current specializations on offer.

ISS study guide

ISS study guide 2018-2019Download the ISS study guide