National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) – human rights commissions and ombudsmen – have gained recognition as a possible missing link in the transmission and implementation of international human rights norms at the domestic level. They are also increasingly accepted as important participants in global and regional forums where international norms are produced. By collecting innovative work from experts spanning international law, political science, sociology and human rights practice, this book critically examines the significance of this relatively new class of organizations. It focuses, in particular, on the prospects of these institutions to effectuate state compliance and social change. Consideration is given to the role of NHRIs in delegitimizing – though sometimes legitimizing – governments' poor human rights records and in mobilizing – though sometimes demobilizing – civil society actors. The volume underscores the broader implications of such cross-cutting research for scholarship and practice in the fields of human rights and global affairs in general.
• Focuses on an important, new institution that has not received substantial scholarly attention • Includes multiple disciplines represented including law, political science and sociology • Directly engages with cutting edge scholarship on the topic of state compliance with international legal norms and accountability of political institutions
1. National human rights institutions, state compliance, and social change Ryan Goodman and Thomas Pegram; Part I. NHRIs in Theory and Reality: 2. National human rights institutions and state compliance Sonia Cardenas; 3. The shifting boundaries of NHRI definition in the international system Linda C. Reif; 4. Evaluating NHRIs: considering structure, mandate, and impact Julie Mertus; Part II. NHRI Performance: Global, Regional, and National Domains: 5. National human rights institutions and the international human rights system Chris Sidoti; 6. National human rights institutions in anglophone Africa: legalism, popular agency, and the 'voices of suffering' Obiora Chinedu Okafor; 7. National human rights institutions in the Asia Pacific region: change agents under conditions of uncertainty Catherine Renshaw and Kieren Fitzpatrick; 8. National human rights institutions in Central and Eastern Europe: the ombudsman as agent of international law Richard Carver; 9. National human rights institutions in Latin America: politics and institutionalization Thomas Pegram; Part III. NHRIs and Compliance: Beyond Enforcement: 10. The societalization of horizontal accountability: rights advocacy and the defensor del pueblo de la nación in Argentina Enrique Peruzzotti; 11. Through pressure or persuasion?: Explaining compliance with the resolutions of the Bolivian defensor del pueblo Fredrik Uggla; Part IV. Final Reflections: 12. Tainted origins and uncertain outcomes: evaluating NHRIs Peter Rosenblum; 13. National human rights institutions, opportunities, and activism David S. Meyer.