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Compliance with the Convention Against Torture: Testing Nordic Exceptionalism

62 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015  

Aled Dilwyn Fisher

University of Oslo - Department of Public and International Law

Malcolm Langford

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law

Johan Karlsson Schaffer

University of Oslo - Norwegian Centre for Human Rights

Date Written: March 26, 2015

Abstract

Are the Nordic states exceptional performers on eradicating torture? Nordic states are reputed ‘norm entrepreneurs’ for the international law ban against torture, but they also engage in domestic practices that put dents in any claims to superiority in fighting torture.

In this paper, we challenge contrasting images of Nordic commitment to international human rights norms by examining the periodic review process under the Convention against Torture. Specifically, we ask: Do Concluding Observations issued by the Committee against Torture suggest evidence of Nordic exceptionalism in terms of human rights engagement?

The paper analyses COs on four Nordic and four comparator states over two decades, looking specifically at two issues: the definition of torture in law and detention conditions. Our findings suggest that the Committee increasingly subjects Nordic states to scrutiny, revealing differences between these states, particular causes for concern and, sometimes, frustration at refusal to heed recurring calls for reform.

Keywords: Convention against Torture, Concluding Observations, Nordic states, exceptionalism, definition of torture in national law, detention

Suggested Citation

Fisher, Aled Dilwyn and Langford, Malcolm and Schaffer, Johan Karlsson, Compliance with the Convention Against Torture: Testing Nordic Exceptionalism (March 26, 2015). University of Oslo Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2015-13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2585377 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2585377

Aled Dilwyn Fisher

University of Oslo - Department of Public and International Law ( email )

P.O. Box 6706 St. Olavs plass
N-0130 Oslo
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://www.jus.uio.no/ior/english/people/aca/aleddf/index.html

Malcolm Langford

University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law ( email )

P.O. Box 6706 St. Olavs plass
N-0130 Oslo
Norway

Johan Schaffer (Contact Author)

University of Oslo - Norwegian Centre for Human Rights ( email )

Oslo, 0130
Norway

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