International Organisations and Human Rights: The Role of the UN Covenants in Overcoming the Accountability Gap

36 Nordic Journal on Human Rights (2018) 74-90

18 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2019

Date Written: May 1, 2018

Abstract

The accountability gap for the conduct of International Organisations (IOs) conflicting with their members’ human rights treaty obligations undermines the acceptance of IOs as a forum of international cooperation and weakens the achievements of the UN Covenants alike. This article examines three possible approaches to establish a legal link between IOs and their members’ human rights treaty obligations. First, the treaty obligations could be transferred to IOs through the act of establishment. Second, IOs could be bound by the law of treaties to interpret their founding treaty in accordance with their members’ human rights treaty obligations. Third, obligations of international cooperation could bind IOs to observe their members’ human rights treaty obligations. All approaches face the challenge of paying deference to the independent legal personality of IOs as well as the pacta tertiis problem. The article demonstrates that IOs are bound to respect the UN Covenants to the extent their obligations are generally accepted. For determining and further developing substantive human rights obligations of relevance for IOs, the UN Covenants’ Committees play a vital role.

Keywords: International Organisations, Human Rights, UN Covenants, Accountability, Responsibility

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Zagel, Gudrun Monika, International Organisations and Human Rights: The Role of the UN Covenants in Overcoming the Accountability Gap (May 1, 2018). 36 Nordic Journal on Human Rights (2018) 74-90, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3312144

Gudrun Monika Zagel (Contact Author)

University of Salzburg School of Law ( email )

A-5020 Salzburg
Austria
+43-662-8044-3667 (Phone)

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