This module is a resource for lecturers  




This Module is designed to provide materials that lecturers can use to introduce students to the United Nations standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice, highlighting both the normative significance of setting detailed standards for institutions and professionals in the field of justice, and the practical application of these standards and norms in affirming the fundamental human rights principles of equality before the law, equal human dignity, and the right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Module also provides an overview of the authoritative standing of these instruments in the broader structure of international law and describes the practical mechanisms through which these standards and norms are agreed, promoted, monitored, and upheld.

While some students may hold prior knowledge of the core human rights treaties and the role these play in safeguarding the rights of individuals in contact with the law, they may be less familiar with the role that the United Nations (UN) standards and norms play vis-à-vis these core human rights treaties. The Module aims, therefore, to help lecturers equip students with a working knowledge of the mechanisms by which the standards and norms are developed, and an understanding of the authoritative role these play with regards to crime prevention and criminal justice law, policy, and practice in respective UN Member States.


Learning outcomes

  • Identify, discuss, and develop an understanding of the overall function of the UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice
  • Develop an ability to conceptualize the mutually supportive roles played by the core human rights treaties; the mechanisms of the respective treaty monitoring bodies; the UN standards and norms on crime prevention and criminal justice, and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) tools
  • Discern and critically assess the practical role the standards and norms play in affirming the internationally agreed rights-based foundation for law and practice within States (as evident in the various UNODC tools, model laws, and technical assistance initiatives)
  • Understand and constructively assess the philosophy of how and why these international standards and norms matter. Students are encouraged to reflect on the role the standards and norms play in upholding the rule of law, and develop an appreciation of the rule of law as integral to the protection of victims, witnesses, accused persons, and convicted offenders
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