I have just returned from an express trip to Chile at the invitation of the Chilean Institute of Human Rights (INDH) and the Human Rights Programme at Diego Portales University (UDP) to join them on 12 May for an international conference on the Strengths and Limitations of Human Rights Institutionalization. We were joined by José Miguel Vivanco, Director of Human Rights Watch Americas, Amerigo Incalcaterra, regional OHCHR representative for the Americas, and many colleagues, observers and practitioners from the human rights community in Chile. Continue reading A new human rights architecture for Chile
Katerina Linos and I have published a working paper in the Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR) Matters of Concern Human Rights Research Paper Series – a working paper series focusing on new and emerging research on human rights across academic disciplines. The DIHR is one of the oldest NHRIs in the world and has a longstanding reputation for facilitating meaningful dialogue among academic, practitioner and policymaker communities.
The paper, Interrogating Form and Function: Designing Effective National Human Rights Institutions, examines the key question: what institutional features make NHRIs effective? It departs from the conventional assumption that formal design matters and speaks Continue reading Interrogating form and function: Designing effective national human rights institutions
Katerina Linos and I have just finished putting the final touches to our paper ‘The Language of Compromise in International Agreements’ and we’re excited about its journal publication shortly. We hope it will make a significant contribution to debates surrounding international law, organizations and human rights. Using an original dataset from the 1991 Paris Principles on the Design of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in addition to several sources of qualitative evidence, we find that the degree of flexibility in soft law agreement language influences state behaviour. Continue reading The effects of international human rights soft law
To round off my (economy) jet-setting for the time-being, I have just returned from my first European Union Studies Association conference in Boston. This was new terrain for me, not strictly being an EU specialist. However, my research on new modes of governance, responsive regulation and transgovernmental networks in the human rights domain resonates with a lot of really great EU-focused scholarship (for instance, here and here). I participated in a very enjoyable panel on New Perspectives on the Interplay Continue reading European Union Studies Association, Boston 2015
I participated in a webinar today hosted by the World Bank in association with the International Ombudsman Institute. The focus was on on the role of the ombudsman in advancing Open Government based on my research on ombudsmen, principally in Latin America – but applicable to other democratic settings. In a nutshell: ombudsmen can be Information-Brokers, Advocates, Amplifiers and Consensus-Builders for Open Government. The powerpoint is available here.
We often associate the ombudsman with Sweden and advanced democracies, they can now be found in very diverse political systems, from South Africa to Indonesia to Peru and Poland. It is important not to underestimate the potential challenges which open government advocates encounter in weakly institutionalized or are sometimes referred to as new democracies. These ombudsmen operate in settings where formal rules – particularly at the local sub-national level – are often contested, changed, and routinely violated. In turn, in political systems which have limited experience of liberal democracy, public officials may view election to political office more as implying responsibility, than accountability.