Norwegian version of this page

Disputation: Stian Øby Johansen

Master of Laws Stian Øby Johansen at the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law will be defending the thesis; The Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms of International Organizations. A Framework and Three Case Studies for the degree of Ph.D.

Stian Øby Johansen

Photo: UiO

Trial lecture - time and place

Adjudication committee

Chair of defence

Vice Dean Erling Hjelmeng



Do international organizations wield power without accountability?

International organizations have become increasingly powerful. Consequently, they are now more capable than ever of violating the human rights of individuals. But how can international organizations be held to account for such violations?

For individuals to be able to hold international organizations to account, accountability mechanisms are needed. These come in different shapes and forms, such as domestic and international courts, ombudspersons, and internal oversight investigations.

A framework and three case studies

This thesis establishes a framework for analyzing and assessing the accountability mechanisms of international organizations. This framework consists, firstly, of a definition and detailed taxonomy of the accountability mechanisms of international organizations.

Secondly, the normative yardsticks for assessing the sufficiency of the accountability mechanisms of international organizations are proposed. These are derived from two strands of theory: the right to remedy and procedural justice research. The yardsticks enable the assessment of four aspects of the accountability mechanisms of international organizations: Access, Participation, Neutrality, and Outcome.

This framework is then used to analyze and assess the accountability mechanisms applicable in three cases where international organizations wield significant power over individuals:

  • Peace-keeping and peace-building missions under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy,
  • Refugee camp administration by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and
  • Detention at the Detention Centre of the International Criminal Court.

The accountability mechanisms available today are insufficient

The overall conclusion is that none of the systems of accountability mechanisms applicable in the three cases are fully sufficient. That being said, there are significant variations between the cases, and between different types of accountability mechanisms, when it comes to fulfilling these requirements.

In light of these findings, the thesis also puts forward some hypotheses applicable to international organizations generally. Notably, it is suggested that systems of accountability mechanisms consisting exclusively of ombudspersons, internal oversight mechanisms, and/or inspection and review panels are never sufficient. Other mechanisms are thus needed as a supplement.


Published May 24, 2017 4:21 PM - Last modified Apr. 8, 2021 3:04 PM