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The UN and Human Rights
Who Guards the Guardians?

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Part of Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law

  • Date Published: December 2011
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139118392

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About the Authors
  • Through an analysis of UN operations including international territorial administration, refugee camps, peacekeeping, the implementation of sanctions and the provision of humanitarian aid, this book shows that the powers exercised by the UN carry a serious risk of human rights abuse. The International Law Commission has codified and developed the law of institutional responsibility, but, while indispensable, these principles and rules cannot on their own ensure compliance and accountability. The 'liberty deficit' of the UN and of other international organisations thus remains an urgent legal and political problem. Some solutions may be available; indeed, recent state and institutional practice offers interesting examples in this respect. But at a fundamental level we need to ask ourselves whether, judged on the basis of the principle of liberty, the power shift from states to international organisations is always beneficial.

    • Offers a systematic analysis of the question of UN accountability, thus providing readers with a clearer perspective on questions that are too often discussed in generic terms and without the support of proper scholarly analysis
    • Addresses neglected areas of the law of international organisations, and while primarily doctrinal, it also engages with empirical and normative arguments
    • Readers from development studies, international relations and legal philosophy backgrounds will be able to engage with the book
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    • Winner of the 2014 Friends of ACUNS Book Award

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this book deserves to be highly commended for highlighting an important problem - the lack of accountability of the UN - and systematically looking at the practice of the organisation and the obligations involved.' Tiina Pajuste, British Yearbook of International Law

    'Verdirame has produced an excellent and sophisticated study of a complex issue, passionately defending the need to protect individuals from human rights violations by international organizations but acknowledging that organizations need to be left some leeway as well in dealing with policy dilemmas.' Jan Klabbers, International Organizations Law Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2011
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139118392
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Concepts and definitions
    3. Human rights obligations of international organisations
    4. International institutional responsibility
    5. UN relief and development operations
    6. UN peacekeeping
    7. International administrations
    8. Implementation of UN sanctions
    9. Accountability
    10. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Guglielmo Verdirame, King's College London
    Guglielmo Verdirame is Professor of International Law at the Department of War Studies and the School of Law at King's College London. Before taking on this position, he was a Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law. His main areas of research and teaching are public international law, and legal and political philosophy. He is a barrister at 20 Essex Street chambers, London.


    • Winner of the 2014 Friends of ACUNS Book Award

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