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The More the Better? The Complementarity of Human Rights Reviewing Mechanisms in the United Nations

Wednesday 2 June 2021
Diplomacy and Global Affairs Research Seminar Series 2021
Online via Teams (Code: mfn7eno)


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About the lecture

The surge in international human rights treaties since the end of the Second World War led to the establishment of numerous instruments monitoring treaty compliance. Within the United Nations, the two main instruments to this aim are the Treaty Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review. Yet, the co-existence of these mechanisms might give rise to duplications or even contradictions in their output, which includes a set of recommendations for states to improve their performance.

The existence of parallel institutions performing overlapping functions is known as regime complexity, and is present in a variety of policy areas ranging from trade to human rights. While it is generally acknowledged that the parallel functioning of these institutions may give rise to repetitions and contradictions, we still don’t know whether these overlapping activities lead the institutions to mutually strengthen or undermine each other’s work. For example, does the repetition of the same recommendation by multiple bodies increase the pressure on states for respecting that recommendation, or is it seen as a waste of resources? And how will states choose their course of action in the case of contradicting recommendations?

During this seminar, Valentina Carraro will present an original framework to assess the extent to which institutions within regime complexes repeat or contradict each other when delivering recommendations to states, and to assess the conditions under which these repetitions and contradictions lead the institutions to strengthen or undermine each other. This framework is then applied to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review and Treaty Bodies. Data was collected by conducting 22 semi-structured interviews with directly involved participant, and analyzing recommendations delivered by these bodies to 14 countries in the period 2012-2016.

About the speaker

Dr. Valentina Carraro is an Assistant Professor in Global Transformations and Governance Challenges at Leiden University since February 2021. Her research interests include the governance of human rights- and violence-related challenges, global and regional human rights governance, state compliance with international law, and the use of expertise in public bodies. She holds a PhD in International Relations from Maastricht University (2017).

About the seminars

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.


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