Issue 4, 2016

The Nordic Journal of Human Rights winter issue for 2016 features four research articles covering a wide range of human rights topics: international election observation, women’s rights, substantive equality and judicial responses to ethno-cultural claims, as well as an ethnographic study of Mayan concepts and human rights framework. In this issue, all our contributing authors analyse and promote the development of more sophisticated rights frameworks and jurisprudence.

Managing Editor of the Nordic Journal, Anne Christine Lie. Photo: C. Kullgreen

Markku Suksi considers the importance of international election observation monitoring (EOM) reports in human rights jurisprudence. The article argues that reports from election observation missions can constitute evidence in courts, and shows that the reports are occasionally being used in human rights cases that deal with elections. Suksi provides a detailed summary of the use of EOM reports in 16 cases brought before human rights courts and commissions. Suksi asks whether this constitutes a new function for mission reports in human rights law, particularly in the European Court of Human Rights. EOM reports have been used in court cases as facts to establish the circumstances surrounding the case, corroborating evidence of an indirect nature, and even as direct evidence with a clear effect on the outcome of the case. The author also assesses the implications of the wider use of EOM reports by human rights courts.

Meghan Campbell provides a thorough analysis of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (OP-CEDAW), and explores how to fully unlock its potential as a human rights mechanism. Campbell considers the growing number of individual decisions under the OP-CEDAW, and what this means for the development of CEDAW and women’s rights. Campbell argues that the individual decisions should be treated as opportunities to resolve an individual claim and make contributions to the evolution of CEDAW and women’s human rights. The article proposes an analytical framework derived from the definition of discrimination in article 1 of CEDAW to achieve this dual purpose of the individual decisions. Through a case study of individual cases brought before the OP-CEDAW relating to article 12 (equal access to healthcare), the author shows how substantive individual decisions can be a platform for the CEDAW to contribute to the global discussion on women’s rights and develop a more sophisticated accountability framework.

Stener Ekern provides a unique study of how the K’iche Mayas imagine good life and good government. Ekern investigates these concepts from a human rights language perspective, how do human rights concepts resonate with K’iche Mayan philosophy? Ekern offers insight into the moral-political traditions of an indigenous people and how these relate to human rights.

The author also considers the importance of developing a human rights framework/national legislation that incorporates local philosophies to include all elements of a multicultural society, and that this may lead to less asymmetric relations between state law and indigenous legal traditions.

Pier-Luc Dupont explores justice and legal equality in culturally diverse societies. Dupont explains how courts have increasingly been called upon to protect ethnicity-related practices from general criminal and civil sanctions, but that these ‘claims of culture’ have so far been addressed with remarkable inconsistency. Dupont shows how the legal standard of substantive equality might structure the courts’ approach to a range of cases involving minority litigants. Dupont argues that ethnic practices can be divided into four categories, which require distinct modes of legal reasoning: criminal offences, human rights violations, civil infractions and symbolic identification.

Articles are available from Taylor & Francis for download.


Nordic Journal of Human Rights

(2016) Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 229-318.


Markku Suksi - ‘The Use of Election Observation Reports in Regional Human Rights Jurisprudence’, pp 229–246

Meghan Campbell - ‘Women's Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women: Unlocking the Potential of the Optional Protocol’, pp 247–271

Stener Ekern - ‘Towards a Mayan Theory of Human Rights: Sacred Equilibria and the Consequences of Disrespect’, pp 272–288

Pier-Luc Dupont - ‘Human Rights and Substantive Equality in the Adjudication of Ethnic Practices’, pp 289–313


Book Reviews

‘Power, Suffering and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter’, Alicia Yamin - review by Desmond McNeill, pp 314–316

Tags: Women’s rights, Election Observation, Menneskerettigheter, Human Rights, Human Rights Law, Indigenous Peoples, Equality, Minoriteter By Anne Christine Lie
Published Nov. 23, 2016 9:45 AM - Last modified June 2, 2017 10:46 AM