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 between Hard Law and Soft Law in Europe and Beyond’ organized by Abraham Newman and Martino Maggetti. It was a great set of papers and thanks to Mark Pollack for his very helpful comments. I presented a new paper titled: Authority construction under conditions of dual delegation: national institutions and the international human rights system. The abstract follows and the paper is available upon request:
Human rights treaties articulate ambitious international standards, but in many parts of the world, domestic practices lag far behind. This persistent compliance gap has fuelled a search for innovative governance solutions to regulating domestic state behaviour. To bridge this compliance gap, the United Nations adopted a non-binding resolution: The 1993 Paris Principles, recommending that all countries adopt National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and endow them with specific safeguards and powers to enhance their performance. The resolution triggered a norm cascade on a global scale, from 21 NHRIs before 1993 to almost 120 NHRIs in 2015. International relations scholarship has examined the exogenous drivers of NHRI adoption by states. However, research has not yet explained why the Paris Principles have become so influential? Given the problem structure posed by the human rights regulatory domain, the adoption of supranational rules restricting state discretion in itself presents an empirical puzzle. The impact of a non-binding instrument in the absence of ex ante state agreement over their content, as well as a self-organised NHRI peer monitoring system, further compounds the puzzle. This article adopts a purposive institutional framework which incorporates a constructivist preoccupation with the rule-entrepreneurial activities of NHRI practitioners. These transgovernmental actors have engaged in a two-level game of authority construction under conditions of dual delegation to advance their own policy goals.