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Advanced Introduction to International Human Rights Law

Dinah L. Shelton

In this landmark text, Dinah Shelton offers an insightful overview of the current state of international human rights law: its norms, institutions and procedures, both global and regional. Providing an invaluable entry point to this complex area of the law, and an insightful reference for seasoned experts, the book will prove a useful resource for professors and practitioners of international law. It will also serve as a stimulating introductory text for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on human rights.
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3 International institutions

Dinah L. Shelton

Extract

Human rights law requires institutions and procedures to monitor the promotion and protection of internationally guaranteed rights. The relative youth of human rights as a branch of international law means that the current institutions and procedures remain works in progress, repeatedly reformed, challenged and reconsidered. Moreover, human rights bodies and organs generally function within international institutions whose mandates are not limited to human rights issues. The treaties that create these institutions may in fact place primary emphasis on other matters, such as economic integration or maintaining international peace and security, creating a constant tension in the efforts to balance or reconcile various mandates and priorities. The status accorded human rights among the purposes and functions of each organization is an important factor in the potential effectiveness of the organization’s human rights programme. Even in organizations that purport to place high priority on human rights, the entities and their mandates are created and maintained by States that are not always eager to have strong institutions scrutinizing their compliance with human rights norms.

The main global entity concerned with human rights is the UN system, including its main and subsidiary organs and the specialized agencies affiliated with it. Other global organizations, including international financial bodies and the World Trade Organization (WTO), touch on human rights matters in their work but the topic is not mentioned in their founding documents. Numerous regional human rights institutions and systems have also emerged, particularly since the end of the Cold War. This chapter introduces...

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