Giving Meaning and Effect to Human Rights: The Contributions of Human Rights Committee Members

Abstract:

This essay discusses the multiple roles played by the members of the Human Rights Committee in giving effect to the rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It argues that the most important contribution the members make to the human rights project consists in their credible, professional elaboration of those rights, particularly by means of the Committee’s Views and General Comments, as emphasized by the International Court of Justice in the Diallo case. While the Committee members should be open to learning from the insights of other treaty bodies, they should resist urgings toward a simplistic harmonization. The texts and interpretations of other ‘core’ human rights treaties must be used with care in the members’ independent exercise of their own interpretive function.

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