Palermo Summer School 2013


The 2013 EALT summer course under the direction of Prof. Bruno Celano at the University of Palermo was held from June 3-8 on the topic:

Human Rights in Practice: between Norms, Facts and Rhetoric

The practice of rights, their existence and function in the social, political and legal life, has a fragmented and not uniform dimension. Rights exist as abstract (theories of rights) and as positive constructions (declarations of rights, institutions and policies aimed at implementing them); rights exist as conversational practices of political, institutional and legal argumentation; rights have a role in the motivational status of stakeholders, some of which meaning to give them realization, others using them to reach their own goals; and rights exist in real social, legal and political circumstances, where in different degrees they are protected or, indeed, betrayed and violated.

Knowing the practice of rights means to be conscious of their different levels of existence, of their interrelations and of the sometimes enormous gap exiting between facts on one side, and their normative representations, rhetoric, and ideologies on the other. Aiming at enriching this knowledge, the Summer Course proposes a group of seminars that, putting together theoretical, historical and sociological perspectives, analyses some of the core questions about the relationship between rights and social practice (nature and relevance of the international practice of human rights; human rights and legal pluralism; human rights and political discourse), and explores some hot issues (right to food; equality and criminal trial; prisoners’ rights; publicity, secrecy and the Rule of Law) related to normative, factual and rhetorical dimensions of rights.


Each morning two seminars will be held. They will explore the same topic from different perspectives and disciplines, aiming at achieving an effective integration of methods and solutions. In order to encourage a proactive participation, in the afternoon the participants will be engaged in a workshop on the topic discussed in the morning, with the support of the suggested and provided bibliography.


1) Nature and relevance of “practice” in international law, with focus on human rights; 2) The rhetoric of human rights; 3) Legal pluralism and practice of human rights; 4) Prisoners’ rights; 5) Publicity, secrecy and the Rule of Law; 6) Right to food and food policies; 7) Equality and criminal trial.

Conditions of Admission:

The Course is open to students holding a first or second level Master degree, PhD students, PhD, Researchers with an interest in legal theory and able to orientate themselves in the subject matters of the courses. No more than 30 applications will be accepted.

Working languages:

English and Italian.

Enrolment and fees:

For detailed information (programme, speakers, call, registration, housing and fees) see the download-box on the right. See also:

Inscription fees amount to 250 €. The deadline for inscription is on May 31st.

Housing and meals:

Participants not residing in Palermo can be hosted in the rooms of the ERSU Palermo – Ente Regionale per il Diritto allo Studio Universitario, with very cheap rates. All participants will have access to University canteens (with very cheap rates). For more informations contact the Course Secretary.


Summer Course Secretary:

Mr Rosario Castiglione

Email: rosariocastiglioneunipait

Tel: +39 091/23892215



Copyright by European Association for the Teaching of Legal Theory