Global Human Rights Institutions
December 2007, Polity
This book is an introduction to global human rights institutions
and to the challenges and paradoxes of institutionalizing human
rights. Drawing on international legal scholarship and
international relations literature, it examines UN institutions
with a human rights mandate, the process of mainstreaming human
rights, international courts which adjudicate human rights, and
non-governmental human rights organizations.
In mapping the ever more complex network of global human rights institutions it asks what these institutions are and what they are for. It critically assesses and appraises the ways in which global institutions bureaucratize human rights, and reflects on how this process is changing our perception of human rights.
2 Institutionalizing human rights: expectations, paradoxes, and consequences.
Efficiency, legitimacy, power.
Arena, instrument, actor.
Autonomy and dependence.
Form and function.
Bureaucracy: authority and alienation.
Predominance of law.
Exclusion and inclusion.
Guarding the guards.
Remedy and ritual.
3 The rise of global human rights institutions.
Functions, activities, and expectations.
4 United Nations human rights institutions.
Commission on Human Rights.
‘Politicisation’: membership and selectivity.
Advisory services and technical cooperation.
Response to human rights violations: 1235 and 1503.
The Commission 1946-2006: achievements and legacy.
Human Rights Council.
Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
Membership, mandate, and activities.
Hierarchy, expertise, and politics.
Commission on the Status of Women.
Economic and Social Council.
A ‘grand debate’ on human rights?.
Leadership, budget, standards, scrutiny.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A mandate between servant and shield.
From headquarters to the field.
5 Mainstreaming human rights.
From mandate to mainstreaming.
International Labour Organisation.
United Nations Development Programme.
United Nations Children’s Fund.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
United Nations Human Settlements Programme.
World Health Organisation.
Food and Agricultural Organisation.
World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
World Trade Organisation.
Challenges ahead in mainstreaming human rights.
United Nations Security Council.
Safeguarding international peace and security.
Genocide, the responsibility to protect, and human security.
International humanitarian law and civilians in armed conflict.
Criminal justice for human rights violations.
Cooperation, transparency, and the role of NGOs.
6 World courts and human rights.
International Court of Justice.
International Criminal Court.
Towards a world court of human rights?.
7 Non-governmental organisations .
Independence between law and politics.
Consultation, co-operation, compensation, competition.
Information, definition, mobilisation.
Agenda-setting, norm-making, and policy development.
Advocacy, education, and operation.
8 Conclusion .
- The first comprehensive introduction to global human rights
- With a preface by Conor Gearty, one of the world’s
leading scholars of human rights
- Analyses the function of global human rights institutions and
discusses the challenges and paradoxes of
‘institutionalizing’ human rights
- Examines UN institutions with a human rights mandate, the
process of ‘mainstreaming’ human rights, international
courts which adjudicate human rights, and non-governmental human
- Accessible and clearly written, this book is an ideal reference tool for all students and scholars of human rights and international politics
Political Studies Review
"Oberleitner offers a lucid history, topography and enlightening
assessments of the work of the major and some of the minor
institutions that define the human rights movement today. The
volume will be an excellent resource and guide for activists, civil
servants, diplomats, researchers, students and their
J. Paul Martin, Columbia University
"At last we have a comprehensive account of human rights
institutions that brings together international relations and
international law perspectives. This panorama of a book will prove
as valuable to international officials, diplomats and NGOs as it
will to academics and their students."
Kevin Boyle, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex