The Legal Status of Decisions by Human Rights Treaty Bodies: International Supervision, Authoritative Interpretations or mission éducatrice?
32 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2020
Date Written: December 20, 2019
Academic analysis of pronouncements of human rights treaty monitoring bodies has tended to focus on their contribution to the promotion of human rights in domestic jurisdictions, particularly to convey the desire of scholars to see more use of these pronouncements by domestic courts. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the issue of their legal status in light of the supervisory function of human rights monitoring bodies. The following paper focuses not so much on the use of such pronouncements by national bodies, but rather on their status according to the applicable rules of international law. Starting with an analysis of a few recent cases by national courts, which commented on the legal value of the work of these bodies, the paper then challenges two recurring arguments in the legal scholarship: their equation to judicial bodies, and the existence of a procedural obligation on States to consider their authoritative views. Next, it focuses on the interpretive weight of the pronouncements of these treaty bodies in international law, and, accordingly, in national jurisdictions. The paper argues that the alleged existence of a general procedural obligation on States to consider the pronouncements of human rights treaty monitoring bodies is controversial, and that their work does not have a specific, or privileged, legal position in defining the ordinary meaning of a treaty. The conclusions point out that supervisory bodies have a specific and important role in the international legal order, different from that of courts, which bears preserving.
Keywords: international supervision, human rights treaty monitoring body, treaty interpretation, obligation to consider
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