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
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: Suggested Citation