Diligent parliaments: Is increasing the deliberative engagement of parliaments with international human rights norms a contribution to trust, a manifestation thereof, a complication or even a threat?

Some express distrust towards institutions by stating that a global and increasingly informal ‘super legislator’ is imposing human rights norms of widening scope and intensity. According to a central narrative of distrust, these norms and their interpretations lessen the room for manoeuvre of democratically elected legislators. Besides assessing the accuracy of this narrative, two remedies are commonly suggested: i) democratising international norm production and ii) widening legislative approval prior to treaty ratification, allowing dissent by parliaments. We argue that there are at least five reasons why these approaches alone insufficiently include dissent in the legislative processes, both at norm genesis and later when parliaments are supposed to decide how to diligently legislate to implement human rights protections. We propose to explore what it means to increase the ‘deliberative engagement’ of domestic parliaments with international duties to fulfil human rights.

Human Rights Diligence: The Hijacking of Regional Human Rights Mechanisms

Since its inception, the international human rights system has served as a stage for significant political contestation. One recent manifestation of this is reflected in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) creation of an Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC). An examination of the IPHRC’s structure and activities reveals a sophisticated and concerted effort to subvert the foundational premise of human rights for everybody everywhere. This effort advances the relativistic interests of its state masters and emboldens illiberal and authoritarian tendencies on the global stage. Consequently, the paper argues that the failure to mount an effective response to the IPHRC’s emergence as a valid regional rights mechanism risks abdicating human rights diligence in the international arena, and concludes by offering several recommendations aimed at preventing the internal commandeering and discrediting of the international human rights system. 

International Consensus on Human Rights: Status quo, Problems, Perspectives

Trust requires unity. A common opinion on certain basic values is a precondition for any open, honest and fruitful dialogue. However, the present state of international relationships reveals the opposite: aiming at realizing unilateral strategies, states show little interest in considering the positions of their geopolitical vis-à-vis. The rivalry for world supremacy overwhelms all attempts to find mutually acceptable solutions, while the emphasis of historical and cultural uniqueness ruins the very ground for negotiations.
Human rights which aim to protect secure living conditions, healthy environment and individual self-realization give a chance to find a common divisor and a starting point for inter-state cooperation. Considering the growing isolationist tendencies, their unifying potential might well be the only possibility to prevent further alienation in this present period of ubiquitous distrust.

Human Rights credibility and the dialectics of trust and distrust

Both trust and distrust fulfil relevant functions for a system of governance respectful of human rights. Based on examples from Human Rights practice the paper will endeavour to confront aspects of democratic governance requiring trust to those benefitting from distrust. Credible implementation of Human Rights contributes to foster trust. The functioning of public institutions depends on being trusted by the citizenry. Democratic representation may be perceived as manifestation of trust. On the other hand, Human Rights emerged from distrust of human beings opposing their inalienable rights to the arbitrariness of power. Continued vigilance (i.e. distrust) practised in elections and by bringing cases to Court is essential, while the credibility of Human Rights depends on the respect of a trustworthy judiciary. Vigilant distrust towards persons may balance considered trust towards institutions.

Human Rights Due Diligence in the EU Context and its Relation with Corporate Social Responsibility, Trust, Investment and Risk Management

The EU regulatory approach upon issues of corporate governance and risk management has been changing, especially after the last world economic crisis. Sustainability and long-term shareholder engagement are widely debated, while growing thoughtfulness about human rights guarantees in corporate’s context has only led to few practical measures. Such guarantees, as detailed by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, should therefore be implemented in EU law regarding corporate governance rules. Binding norms and orientations on human rights due diligence processes are evidently needed both from a social responsibility perspective and for the corporation’s benefit as a precondition of trust by stakeholders, as well as in terms of investment attraction and risk mitigation. Strengthened rules on that matter will ensure not only a better performance of the social responsibility of companies, but also enable States to better perform their own human rights duties.

Calling for Dissent: A Glance at Extraterritorial Regulation and Jurisdiction through a Lens of Human Rights

The exercise by a State of prescriptive, adjudicative or enforcement authority over conduct outside its territory is widely discussed in literature and remains contentious. Based on selected jurisprudence and case studies, this paper will argue that in most instances the premises for the exercise of extraterritorial regulation and jurisdiction are highly questionable. This concerns notably instances which amount to mere imposing particular national interests on the international community rather than pursuing any legitimate aims. Conversely, global consensus on human rights and safeguards for access to effective remedy for victims of human rights violations do legitimise the exercise of extraterritorial authority, where a domestic court in a host jurisdiction is unwilling or unable to provide a judicial avenue for redress. Thus extraterritorial authority in the field of human rights could serve as a tool to address both corporate impunity as well as governance and jurisdiction lacunas.