Collective Legalization as a Strategic Function of the UN General Assembly in Responding to Human Rights Violations
63 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 3, 2022
As the United Nations General Assembly (“Assembly”) has developed and its role has adapted to address changing exigencies in international affairs, collective legalization has emerged as one of its key functions. The collective legality instrument denotes the forging of a legal consensus by the community of states, which, in addressing violations of international law, falls to be evaluated in four ways: the declaration of international norms (quasi-legislative); the application of norms to a situation (quasi-judicial); a call for states to take specified action to conform with international law (recommendatory); and legal authority for states to act to bring offending states back into conformity with their obligations (authorizing).
These four domains provide a framework for systematic research into the legal authority of the Assembly in international affairs. This Article unearths the use of the collective legality instrument in one such area: responses to human rights violations. While the Assembly has been lauded for its contribution to the legal development of human rights law, there has been no attempt to systematically analyze its use of the collective legality instrument across the enumerated four domains, including the relationship between these domains, within the international human rights system. This Article fills that gap. Drawing upon a review of all human rights resolutions adopted by the Assembly since 1946, this Article classifies and analyzes their legal influence on a variety of human rights actors operating within the system. The Article identifies the significant contribution of the Assembly’s quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial resolutions within this system, while also planting legal seeds to enhance the authority of the Assembly in the future in responding to human rights violations (especially in the recommendatory and authorizing domains). In addition to being of value to international human rights scholars, this Article provides scholarly insights into the legal significance of collective state action through international organizations as a general strategy in the advancement and realization of community goals.
Keywords: UN General Assembly, international human rights law, United Nations law
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