The legal status and powers of human rights treaty bodies

Prof. Geir Ulfstein will be presenting at the MultiRights seminar

Human rights treaty bodies raise issues related to law, effectiveness and legitimacy. The legal issues pertain, first, to whether international human rights have special features compared to other parts of international law (treaty interpretation, status of reservations, and state succession). Secondly, the legal powers of human rights treaty bodies between treaty law and international institutional law raise interesting questions (the role of ‘implied powers’, the legal status of findings). The treaty bodies have been innovative in finding new ways to increase the effectiveness of their findings. But they face difficult problems in handling the existing case load; national implementation is wanting and selective; and the increasing number of treaty bodies means increased fragmentation. Finally, the legitimacy of the treaty bodies’ activities must be assessed on the basis of criteria of legality, their effectiveness, but also to what extent they represent acceptable intrusions in national sovereignty and democracy.


Published Oct. 3, 2011 9:47 AM