Global Human Rights Governance and Orchestration: National Human Rights Institutions as Intermediaries
European Journal of International Relations, 6 October 2014
42 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2014 Last revised: 2 Feb 2015
Date Written: April 14, 2014
The United Nations remains the principal international governmental organisation (IGO) for promoting human rights. However, serious concerns focus on persistent “compliance gaps” between human rights standards and domestic practice. In response and against a backdrop of growing regime complexity, UN human rights agencies have increasingly sought to bypass states by coordinating new forms of non-state and private authority. IR scholarship has captured this governance arrangement using the concept of orchestration, defined as when an international organisation enlists and supports intermediary actors to address target actors in pursuit of IGO governance goals (Abbott & Snidal 2014). This paper explores the implications of orchestration for human rights governance by analyzing National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the context of an established global human rights regime and its dedicated orchestrator: the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. I use the experience of NHRIs to further refine the concepts of managing versus bypassing states to capture how intermediaries are affected by and respond to new opportunities within IGO structures. The paper identifies the conditions under which orchestration may be particularly well-suited to a human rights governance function. It further examines what the analysis means for international organisations more generally.
Keywords: global governance, human rights, advocacy, United Nations, NHRIs, international organization, impact strategy
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