Effectiveness of International and Regional Human Rights Regimes
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDIES ENCYCLOPEDIA, Robert A. Denemark, ed., Blackwell Publishing, 2010
40 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 14, 2010
This chapter examines the study of human rights regimes in the field of International Relations (IR). In particular, it explores the links between theories of regimes (how are the origins, development and effects of regimes on politics explained?) on the one hand, and the evolving norms and practices of human rights embedded within the institutions of international and global society on the other. Despite the ubiquitous institutional presence of human rights in world politics, the subject of human rights regimes remains somewhat elusive. The first section therefore seeks to give a general overview of how the study of human rights regimes has developed at the interface between IR and international law with a view to outlining the subject of research; to survey the main approaches adopted; to give a sense of why regimes matter and to what extent they could be understood to be ‘effective’. In particular, the implications of the analytical shift from the inter-state dynamics of international society to its transnational dimensions for the study of human rights regimes are outlined. Building on this last point, the second section explores the ways in which the norms and practices of global human rights institutions have evolved since the Second World War and into the age of globalization. The focus here is on the institutionalization of human rights globally through the United Nations system and the connections between the development over time of international human rights institutions on the one hand and their relative effectiveness in shaping human rights behaviour on the other. Against this global background, the third section examines the comparative development of regional human rights regimes. Particular emphasis is put on the role and influence of regionalism in shaping the development and impact of international human rights law and policy.
Keywords: compliance, enforcement, human rights, international institutions, international law, regimes, regional organizations, transnationalism, United Nations
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