Should States Ratify Human Rights Conventions? 2009-2012 (completed)

The project aims to achieve insight into whether human rights conventions are normatively legitimate, especially on the basis of states' assessments of the costs and benefits of ratifying human rights conventions at the time of ratification, and in light of the effects of these conventions.

About the project

The first year of the project takes place at the Centre for Advanced Study 2009-10.

During the following two years - 2010-12 two post-docs continue, and several anthologies will be written and published. The two post-docs have received funding from the Norwegian Research Council and the University of Oslo.

During 2009-2010 the two post-docs take part in a project 'Should States ratify Human Rights Conventions', a multi-disciplinary, basic research project at the Norwegian Centre for Advanced Study (CAS).

The proliferation of global and regional human rights conventions in recent decades raises important questions about their impact and legitimacy. The conventions restrict states' legislative, executive and judicial powers. The conventions also establish different supervisory mechanisms with committees and courts, and are 'living instruments' in that these organs develop the interpretation of the conventions over time.

The multidisciplinary research group brings together some of the best Norwegian and international legal scholars, social scientists, and normative political theorists. It will adress three central puzzles in the field of human rights conventions:

  1. the motivations of states when they enter into the conventions
  2. the effects of these conventions on states, and, in the light of these findings
  3. whether such conventions are normatively legitimate.

Objectives of the post-doc projects

  1. The primary objective is to achieve insight into states' assessments of the costs and benefits of ratifying human rights conventions at the time of ratification; the legal and political effects of ratification as shown by subsequent developments; and the normative implications of ratification, especially from a democratic point of view.
  2. The secondary objectives include the examination of historical data about the process of ratification (law and political science); analyzing procedures and decisions from international human rights monitoring bodies and courts, and their effect on national legislature, administration and courts (law and political science); and discuss the normative implications of making binding international human rights commitments supervised by international organs (political theory).

The project will provide insight in the legal and political implications of international conventions, their effectiveness, and how they should be assessed in the political debate.


The project will result in empirical findings and develop normative guidelines for assessing the ratification of human rights conventions. It will also provide new insight in the democratic challenges in a globalized world.


Project period 2009-2012.


  • Post-doc Johan Magnus Karlsson with the project Democracy, human rights, and the design of international institutions.


Norwegian Research Council

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law


Norwegian Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) 2009-2010

Published Apr. 12, 2010 2:04 PM - Last modified Nov. 9, 2018 1:45 PM