MultiRights Seminar: The status of human rights in non-human rights judicial bodies

Jure Vidmar is an Anglo-German Fellow at the Institute of European and Comparative Law, Faculty of Law, Oxford University. Vidmar is also an editor of the Hague Yearbook of International Law. In his presentation at the MultiRights Seminar, he will discuss case law and findings presented in the book: De Wet & Vidmar (eds.), 'Hierarchy in International Law: The Place of Human Rights' (OUP 2012), and other issues beyond it.

All welcome!


Some theoretical concepts and judicial decisions have implied that human rights norms enjoy a special hierarchical standing in the international legal system. If this were the case, various judicial bodies would constantly need to give preference to human rights over other international legal obligations. This paper draws on the study of case law of domestic, regional and international judicial bodies. It argues that in the de-centralised international legal system, a preference given to one type of obligations is a matter of functional bias of a particular judicial body rather than special standing of one international legal regime within the entire system of international law. Human rights bodies may well favour human rights but this preference is not the universal pattern significant for all tribunals. Nevertheless, human rights obligations play a prominent role in the decisions of international bodies functioning within a different functional paradigm (e.g. WTO panels, investment arbitrations) as well as in jurisprudence of domestic courts. These decisions reflect the approach of systematic integration of international legal obligations and do not point to a special standing of the human rights regime.

Reading Material

For a background of the discussion, we recommend the reading of the introductory chapter and the conclusions of De Wet & Vidmar (eds.), 'Hierarchy in International Law: The Place of Human Rights' (OUP 2012), and other issues beyond it.


For more information on this seminar, please contact our project coordinator.


Geir Ulfstein
Andreas Føllesdal
Johan Schaffer
Ninio Tsereteli
Amrei Mueller
Jonas S. Iversen
Leiry Cornejo Chavez



Published Oct. 9, 2012 3:11 PM - Last modified Oct. 13, 2014 10:51 AM