Compliance with the Convention Against Torture: Testing Nordic Exceptionalism
62 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 26, 2015
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
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