Monday, April 5, 2010

de Beco: Non-Judicial Mechanisms for the Implementation of Human Rights in European States

Gauthier de Beco (Catholic Univ. of Louvain) has published Non-Judicial Mechanisms for the Implementation of Human Rights in European States (Bruylant 2010). Here's the abstract:

This book deals with non-judicial mechanisms for the implementation of human rights in European states. Human rights have been recognised through various human rights instruments. However, achieving compliance with human rights requires more than just creating, clarifying or expanding human rights standards. Human rights treaties also need concrete responses within domestic systems to allow these treaties to function. This requires that states create non-judicial mechanisms for the implementation of human rights. Four such mechanisms are studied in the book: national human rights institutions (NHRIs), human rights indicators, human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) and national human rights action plans (NHRAPs). These non-judicial mechanisms have recently been developed by European states, but they have not been much discussed. Their creation requires a different approach to human rights than those approaches that focus on their judicial application by human rights bodies. The book aims to provide an in-depth insight into the non-judicial mechanisms and includes discussions of both their theoretical and practical aspects.

In the introduction, the author argues that human rights should be implemented principally at the national level. In view of this, states should endeavour to achieve compliance with both civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights. This requires that they establish non-judicial mechanisms that strengthen their national human rights systems. Doing so is a procedural requirement that defines the way in which states should implement human rights. Non-judicial mechanisms can simultaneously prevent human rights violations, monitor human rights implementation and create a human rights dialogue. The four non-judicial mechanisms for the implementation of human rights studied in this book help states achieve these objectives. They all do this in their own respect, addressing the problem from a specific angle. First, NHRIs are the institutional instrument. While interacting with both state and non-state actors, they both monitor governmental action and provide advice to government, and promote and provide education on human rights. Second, human rights indicators are the measuring instrument. They allow the extent to which a state complies with human rights to be measured, thereby evaluating its progress in the realisation of human rights. Third, HRIAs are the policy instrument.

They evaluate the impact on human rights of both past and future policies. Fourth, NHRAPs are the holistic instrument. They establish a full programme that aims to realise human rights. The four non-judicial mechanisms described are both complementary and interdependent, and therefore constitute instruments that should be collectively established by European states in order to implement human rights. In the conclusion, the author examines the possibility of the use of non-judicial mechanisms for actors other than states as well as the mutual exchange of experiences regarding these non-judicial mechanisms.