Diversity and Decision-Making in International Judicial Institutions: The United Nations Human Rights Committee as a Case Study
53 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2017 Last revised: 9 Aug 2017
Date Written: April 25, 2017
The lack of diversity in the background 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. However, there is little empirical evidence on whether the background of the decision-makers actually influences their decision-making processes in the international context. This article uses the United Nations Human Rights Committee as a case study for testing empirically the influence on decisions of geographical origin, gender, domestic legal system and professional background.
The article finds certain voting patterns that are associated with geographical origin, domestic legal systems, professional background and possibly gender. This is especially true in cases where the Committee Members (CMs) want to protect the interests of their states, since the most significant voting pattern was found for CMs from Western states voting in favor of states from their regions in immigration cases. However, it is safe to say that on most issues the article did not find that the background of the CMs had significant influence on their voting patterns. The article also uses the United Nations Human Rights Committee as a case study to demonstrate the importance of diversity to the legitimacy of international institutions, beyond the practical implications of diversity on the decision-making process.
Keywords: United Nations Human Rights Committee, Judicial Behavior, International Institutions, International Courts
JEL Classification: K33, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation