Legal force of pronouncements by expert human rights treaty bodies

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Author: Irina Bogatyrenko

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2023-2-139-155

Keywords: UN expert treaty bodies; pronouncements of human rights treaty bodies; human rights; interpretation


The article deals with the problem of the non-binding force of legal pronouncements by expert human rights treaty bodies. This is one of the main problems in the functioning of the entire system of treaty monitoring bodies established within the framework of universal international agreements on human rights. The effectiveness of the monitoring mechanism of human rights treaty bodies depends to a large extent on the impact that the pronouncements of the treaty bodies have on national legal orders. The practice of treaty bodies primarily affects national legislation and the protection of human rights at the national level, although it can also influence the development of international law. The purpose of the article is to trace how the attitude of the international community, represented by the International Court of Justice of the United Nations and the UN International Law Commission, as well as that of States, has changed towards pronouncements made by human rights treaty bodies and towards these pronouncements’ significance for international and national law, respectively. The absence of legally binding force of these pronouncements does not mean that they have no legal value at all. On the contrary, States, recognizing the importance of these pronouncements, use various mechanisms to implement them. Therefore, the article analyzes the practices of international bodies and of national courts of States Parties to human rights agreements with respect to the judgments of treaty bodies. An analysis of States’ practices shows that treaty body pronouncements are increasingly used in national courts. Recourse to the judgments of the treaty bodies in interpreting human rights is likely to depend to a large extent on the authority of the treaty bodies and on the specific provisions of their pronouncements. However, in the absence of binding powers, treaty bodies need to ensure their legitimacy through their internal procedures and the clarity of their decisions’ legal reasoning. In addition, it makes sense, in light of the rules of international law of treaty interpretation, to assess the capacity of treaty bodies to interpret the human rights treaties they are called upon to monitor.

About the author: Irina Bogatyrenko – Ph.D. Student, Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Bogatyrenko I. (2023) Yuridicheskaya sila suzhdeniy ekspertnykh dogovornykh organov po pravam cheloveka [Legal force of pronouncements by expert human rights treaty bodies]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 139–155. (In Russian).


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