Decision-Making and Access to Justice in the United Nations Human Rights Committee /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Shikhelman, Vera, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (264 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Hidden Bibliographic Details
Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Eric A. Posner; Thomas B. Ginsburg Committee members: Thomas B. Ginsburg; Eric A. Posner.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:The title of my dissertation is "decision-making and access to justice in the United Nations Human Rights Committee." The United Nations Human Rights Committee ("HRC") was established under Part IV of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR"), in order to supervise the implementation of the ICCPR in member states. Currently, 169 are parties to the ICCPR. Additionally, 115 states joined the First Optional Protocol, granting the HRC jurisdiction to review individual communications against them for alleged violations of the ICCPR.
Even though since the end of the Cold War there are more and more international institutions established, there is a relatively small body of empirical research about decision-making and procedure in those institutions. The HRC is a very interesting case study in this regard, since it has jurisdiction over many states and has a very diverse body of decision-makers. Therefore, an empirical study about the decision-making processes and procedures in the HRC can contribute to the scholarly understanding of decision-making and access to justice in the context of international institutions.
The dissertation is composed of three papers, and I use both quantitative and qualitative empirical research methods. I coded a dataset of the votes of committee members ("CMs") in individual communications. Additionally, I conducted interviews with individuals, lawyers and NGOs who had filed communications to the Committee. I also attended the 2015 summer session of the HRC in Geneva.
The first paper of the dissertation focuses on the impartiality and independence of the CMs. Previous research on international tribunals found evidence for certain geopolitical and cultural biases in the votes of judges. Also, research conducted on other United Nations human rights mechanisms found evidence for regional patterns of voting. Therefore, it should be expected that the HRC, being both a United Nations body and a quasi-judicial international tribunal, is also somewhat influenced by geopolitical biases. An empirical quantitative analysis of the votes of CMs finds evidence for the existence of geopolitical voting patterns, and also more limited evidence for cultural voting patterns. Additionally, the analysis finds that although votes of individual CMs might be biased, the decisions of the HRC as a whole are usually not influenced by the same biases.
The second paper of the dissertation uses the HRC as a case study for the importance of diversity in international judicial institutions. The lack of diversity in the backgrounds of the decision-makers in international judicial and quasi-judicial institutions has been widely criticized in recent years. It has been argued that the background of the decision-makers is too homogeneous and not representative of the international community as a whole. This paper uses the HRC as a case study for testing empirically the influence on decisions of geographical origin, gender, domestic legal system and professional background. The paper finds certain voting patterns that are associated with geographical origin, domestic legal systems, professional background and possibly gender. This is especially true when CMs want (or are expected) to protect the interests of their states, like in immigration cases. However, it is safe to say that on most issues the paper did not find that the background of the CMs had a significant influence on their voting patterns. The paper also uses the HRC as a case study to demonstrate the possible importance of diversity to the legitimacy of international institutions, beyond the practical implications of diversity on the decision-making process.
The third paper addresses the subject of access to justice in the HRC. The possibility of individuals to bring complaints against their countries to international institutions has been widely regarded as one of the most important developments in international human rights law since World War II. In this paper, I use a mixed methods empirical research strategy to describe and evaluate the access to justice in the context of the HRC. For the quantitative part of the paper (regression analysis), I use an original dataset of the number of communications filed against different countries throughout the years, and of the different characteristics of those countries. For the qualitative part of the paper, I analyze 32 interviews conducted by me with individuals who brought communications to the HRC. The interviews were conducted with applicants from all over the world, both in English and in Russian. In order to evaluate the success of the system, the paper uses a goal-based approach, and analyses the success from the perspectives of different stakeholders. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).