Advertisement

A World Court of Human Rights

  • Manfred Nowak
Living reference work entry
Part of the International Human Rights book series (IHR)

Abstract

Already in 1947, Australia proposed in the UN Commission on Human Rights the establishment of an International Court of Human Rights. While regional human rights courts were created in the following decades in Europe, the Americas, and Africa, the United Nations so far has entrusted only quasi-judicial treaty monitoring bodies with the examination of individual complaints, whose decisions are, however, nonbinding under international law. This is the reason why the author of this chapter, together with Julia Kozma and Martin Scheinin, drafted a Statute for a World Court of Human Rights in the framework of a Swiss initiative aimed at preparing a new Agenda for Human Rights on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This proposal goes beyond the model of regional human rights courts and also provides for an optional competence to hold international organizations, transnational corporations, and other non-State actors accountable for human rights violations. Despite the fact that the current political climate is not very favorable to innovative and future-oriented ideas to strengthen international human rights protection, this initiative was well-received by civil society and the academic community. There is, however, one significant exception: Philip Alston, one of the most prominent human rights scholars of our time, launched a fundamental attack on the very idea of a World Court of Human Rights, calling it a “truly bad idea.” After a short overview of the main reasons for a World Court and the main features of the draft statute, this chapter examines the various reasons put forward by Philip Alston against the World Court and subjects them to a critical review.

Keywords

World Court of Human Rights Philip Alston Non-state actors Remedies Individual complaints 

References

  1. Alston P (2013) A world court for human rights is not a good idea. Available at http://justsecurity.org/2796/world-court-human-rights-good-idea. Accessed 28 Jan 2018
  2. Alston P (2014a) Against a world court of human rights, working paper no 31–71 of October 2013 at the New York University School of Law. Reprinted in Ethics & International Affairs 28(2):197–212Google Scholar
  3. Alston P (2014b) A truly bad idea: a world court for human rights. Available at https://www.opendemocracy.net/openglobalrights-blog/philip-alston/truly-bad-idea-world-court-for-human-rights. Accessed 28 Jan 2018
  4. Alston P, Tessitore J (2014) Interview with Philip Alston on a world court for human rights. Available at https://www.ethicsandinternationalaffairs.org/2014/eia-interview-with-philip-alston-on-a-world-court-for-human-rights. Accessed 28 Jan 2018
  5. BBC News (2012) Prisoners will not get the vote, says David Cameron. Available at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-20053244. Accessed 22 Feb 2018
  6. Cassese A (2012) Realizing utopia: the future of international law. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Devereux A (2002) Australia and the international scrutiny of civil and political rights: an analysis of Australia’s negotiating policies 1946–1966. Aust Yearb Int Law 22:47–52Google Scholar
  8. European Court of Human Rights (2005) Hirst v UK, No. 74025/01, Judgement of the Grand Chamber of 6 October 2005Google Scholar
  9. Frowein J (2002) Provisional measures by the international court of justice, the La Grand case. ZAÖRVR 62(1–2):55–60Google Scholar
  10. International Commission of Jurists (2011) Towards a world court of human rights: questions and answers, supporting paper to the 2011 report of the panel on human dignity, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  11. International Court of Justice (1993) Genocide case (Bosnia and Herzegovina v Yugoslavia), provisional measures, order of 13 Sept 1993, I.C.J. Reports 1993, at 325Google Scholar
  12. International Court of Justice (2001) La Grand case (Germany v United States), judgment of 27 June 2001, I.C.J. Reports 2001, at 466Google Scholar
  13. International Court of Justice (2016). Annual report. UN Doc. A/71/4 of 11 Aug 2016Google Scholar
  14. Kirkpatrick J (2014) A modest proposal: a global court of human rights. J Hum Rights 13(2):230–248.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14754835.2013.824288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kozma J, Nowak M, Scheinin M (2010) A world court of human rights: consolidated statute and commentary. NWV, WienGoogle Scholar
  16. Leach P, Paraskeva C, Uzelak G (2009) International human rights & fact finding: an analysis of the fact-finding missions conducted by the European Commission and European Court of Human Rights. London Metropolitan University, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Li T (2017) The establishment of a world court of human rights and the design of its complementarity jurisdiction. Doctoral Thesis at Vienna UniversityGoogle Scholar
  18. Nowak M (2007) The need for a world court of human rights. HRLR 7(1):251–259Google Scholar
  19. Nowak M (2009) Eight reasons why we need a world court of human rights. In: Alfredsson G, Grimheden J, Ramacharan B, de Zayas A (eds) International human rights monitoring mechanisms – essays in honour of Jakob Th. Möller, vol 2. Brill, Leiden, pp 695–706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Nowak M (2012a) It’s time for a world court of human rights. In: Bassiouni C, Schabas W (eds) New challenges to the UN human rights machinery – what future for the UN treaty body system and the human rights council procedures? Intersentia, Cambridge, pp 17–34Google Scholar
  21. Nowak M (2012b) On the creation of a world court of human rights. Nat Taiwan Univ Law Rev 7(1):257–291Google Scholar
  22. Nowak M (2013a) A new world court of human rights: a role for international humanitarian law? In: Kolb R, Gaggioli G (eds) Research handbook on human rights and humanitarian law. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 531–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nowak M (2013b) Comments on the UN high commissioner’s proposals aimed at strengthening the UN human rights treaty body system. NQHR 31(1):3–8Google Scholar
  24. Nowak M (2014) The right of victims of human rights violations to a remedy: the need for a world court of human rights. NJHR 32(1):3–17Google Scholar
  25. Panel of Eminent Persons. Protecting dignity: an agenda for human rights, www.UDHR60.ch. Accessed 28 Jan 2018
  26. Ssenyonjo M (2016) Economic, social and cultural rights in international law, 2nd edn. Oxford, HartGoogle Scholar
  27. Trechsel S (2004) A world court for human rights? Northwest J Int Hum Rights 1. Available at https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=njihr. Accessed 28 Jan 2018
  28. UN Commission on Human Rights, Draft resolution for an International Court on Human Rights / submitted by the representative of Australia, UN Doc. E/CN.4/15, UN 5 Feb 1947Google Scholar
  29. UN General Assembly Resolution 60/147 of 16 Dec 2005Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.European Inter-University Institute for Human Rights and DemocracyVeniceItaly

Personalised recommendations