Issue 3, 2017: Special Issue on the Interaction between human rights: 50 years of the Covenants

The Fall 2017 issue of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights is now available online.

Excerpts from the Editorial Note

by Guest Editors Fenella Billing ,Lauren Neumann ,Louise Halleskov Storgaard ,Nikolas Feith Tan ,Tara Van Ho  & Jens Vedsted-Hansen 

Looking back half a century reveals a clear development in the history of international human rights law, from a fledgling system of rights protection with little positive law to the complex interwoven international human rights law regime we see today. December 2016 marked 50 years since the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the two major international human rights instruments, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Their creation crystallised the trinity of international documents now referred to as the international bill of rights. The Covenants are two separate documents, with two different sets of norms and specialist supervisory committees; yet, one of the underlying precepts of international human rights law is that all rights are not just universal but also indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

... These developments, with the timely anniversary of the adoption of the Covenants, led the human rights pillar of the INTRAlaw (INternational and TRAnsnational tendencies in law) research centre at Aarhus University to organise a colloquium on the theme of Interaction between human rights: 50 years of the Covenants. In September 2016, the colloquium brought together scholars and practitioners working on the interaction between human rights at the international, regional and domestic levels. The keynote speeches and panel papers addressed the rights protected under the two UN Covenants and the work of their Committees, interpreting and driving the implementation of the respective instruments....

We are pleased to have the opportunity to share some of these contributions with the broader human rights community through this Special Issue of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights. This Special Issue does not cover all dimensions of interaction that were discussed at the colloquium. The selected articles do, however, address some of the most important, controversial and topical human rights issues at this current point in history: the impact of business activities on the protection of human rights and the ensuing interaction between human rights law and the norms on corporate social responsibility (Chiara Macchi); the applicability of human rights norms in armed conflict and the interaction between human rights law and international humanitarian law (Vito Todeschini); the complexities of the approach to intersectional discrimination under human rights treaties (Shreya Atrey); and the interaction between the two European human rights regimes as illustrated by the controversy over EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (Eduardo Gill-Pedro and Xavier Groussot).

The first article (Lauren Neumann and Tara Van Ho) serves a dual purpose. It further introduces the theme of this Special Issue by elaborating on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its relationship with other UN human rights procedures and with civil society; the legal, political and practical challenges to the work of the treaty bodies; and the current discussions and proposals for reform of the treaty bodies’ activities. This article reflects on the keynote address given by Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, who sadly passed away just a few months after the colloquium. The article is therefore also meant to honour Sir Nigel’s enormous contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights for a period that predates even the entry into force of the Covenants in 1976.

The anniversary of the Covenants is a reminder that 50 years is both a short period in the development of law and society yet long for those who suffer from deficiencies in the protection accorded by international human rights regimes. The Colloquium and the Special Issue come at a time when international human rights law seems particularly insecure, with attacks against the universality and justiciability of human rights seemingly coming from every corner, including from states that were once seen as the bulwark of human rights. The subsequent articles in this Special Issue consider both where we are and where we are going, an appropriate reflection on a 50th anniversary worth celebrating.


Nordic Journal of Human Rights

(2017) Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 171- 306.


Fenella Billing, Lauren Neumann, Louise Halleskov Storgaard, Nikolas Feith Tan, Tara Van Ho & Jens Vedsted-Hansen – ‘Editorial Note’, pp 171-172

Special Issue Articles
Lauren Neumann and Tara Van Ho – ‘A Tribute to Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, KBE: Reflections on 50 Years of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’, pp 173-185
Chiara Macchi – ‘Right to Water and the Threat of Business: Corporate Accountability and the State's Duty to Protect’, pp 185-202
Vito Todeschini – ‘The ICCPR in Armed Conflict: An Appraisal of the Human Rights Committee’s Engagement with International Humanitarian Law’, pp 203-219
Shreya Atrey – ‘Fifty Years On: The Curious Case of Intersectional Discrimination in the ICCPR’, pp 220-239
Elena Abrusci – ‘A Tale of Convergence? Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation in Regional Human Rights Bodies and the Human Rights Committee’, pp 240-257
Eduardo Gill-Pedro & Xavier Groussot – ‘The Duty of Mutual Trust in EU Law and the Duty to Secure Human Rights: Can the EU's Accession to the ECHR Ease the Tension?’, pp 258-274


Other Articles
Eric P Tudzi, John T Bugri & Anthony K Danso – ‘Human Rights of Students with Disabilities in Ghana: Accessibility of the University Built Environment’, pp 275-294

Award-winning Student Essay
Nastassja White – ‘Youth for Human Rights: Rising to the Challenge of New Threats against Rights Advocacy and Institutions’, pp 295-303

Book reviews
Theoretical Boundaries of Armed Conflict and Human Rights’ –Jens David Ohlin (ed), review by Anna Andersson, pp 304-306


Tags: Human Rights, Human Rights Law, intersectionality, International Humanitarian Law, corporate social responsibility, discrimination, EU, Disability rights, youth advocacy
Published Sep. 28, 2017 11:56 AM - Last modified Nov. 5, 2018 4:05 PM