Interrogating form and function: Designing effective national human rights institutions

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 directly to the issue of how to design an NHRI that works as intended. In turn, is it possible to promote a formal model which has universal application? To generate some empirical pathways into answering these questions we draw on expert survey data, case study analysis, and extensive human subject work with key stakeholders to develop a series of theoretical conjectures linking particular design attributes to intended and unintended organizational effects.

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