UN public special procedures under Damocles' Sword - two particular innovations: mechanisms for the appointment of mandate-holders, and the adoption of a code of conduct for special procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council.

Dominguez-Redondo, Elvira (2008) UN public special procedures under Damocles' Sword - two particular innovations: mechanisms for the appointment of mandate-holders, and the adoption of a code of conduct for special procedures mandate-holders of the Human Rights Council. Human Rights Law Journal, 29 (1-5). pp. 32-40. ISSN 0174-4704

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Abstract

The context for the reform of the UN's human rights machinery that resulted in the creation of the Human Rights Council (HRC) remains an important backdrop against which to study the outcome of this process. The first part of the article begins by pointing to the coordinates of this process in order to set the context for the analysis of the impact of the reform on the work of the public special procedures. Irrespective of the other changes it is argued that two particular innovations are likely to have greatest impact on the future of the UN special procedures. The first of these is the introduction of a tightly controlled mechanism for the appointment of mandate holders; and the second is the adoption of a Code of Conduct for special procedures. While this comment addresses the first of these changes briefly, it seeks to focus on the latter, since this Code is likely to have significant impact on the work of the special procedures. The paper ends with a reflection on the meaning of the institutional reform from two perspectives. On one hand, one of the most significant differences between the former Commission on Human Rights and the HRC lies in their institutional positioning within the UN. Instead of being a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the HRC has been created as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly. While this upgrade may be positive in terms of the importance given to the HRC, it may also signal new dangers for the future development of UN human rights activities. From the perspective of the public special procedures it remains difficult to gauge the kind of authority likely to be exercised by the General Assembly upon their work, nor is it easy to determine how decisive the actuation of the plenary organ of the UN will be for their operational work. A second perspective reflected upon is that this institutional change has terminated the last clear institutional link within the UN between its human rights mechanisms and its main body charged with development, i.e. ECOSOC. Disconnecting the work of special procedures from ECOSOC contradicts the supposed intention of the UN reform of closing the gap between security, human rights and development, as called for by the UN Secretary General. In addition the lack of competence attributed to the HRC, including the specific instance of not being able to raise recommendations to the Security Council, is likely to act as a further brake on the synchronisation of the three pillars of the UN agenda. In terms of special procedures this is likely to adversely affect the advance on the gains made in these mandates where security and development have been effectively linked in the human rights realm.

Item Type:Article
Research Areas:Middlesex University Schools and Centres > School of Law > Law and Politics
ID Code:7626
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Deposited On:12 Apr 2011 09:34
Last Modified:14 Oct 2014 14:23

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