East European Yearbook on Human Rights

Article

Regional Judicial and Non-judicial Bodies

An Effective Means for Protecting Human Rights?

Keywords Direct access, human rights protection, judicial bodies, non-judicial bodies, direct access of individuals
Authors Ján Klučka
Author's information

327051 Ján Klučka
Professor of International Law, Institute of International and European Law, Law Faculty, University P.J. Šafárik, Košice, Slovakia.
  • Abstract

      Regional human rights systems consisting of regional bodies, instruments and mechanisms play an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights. If one’s rights are not protected on the domestic level, the international system comes into play and protection can be provided either by the regional or global (UN) system. Regional mechanisms of human rights today cover five parts of the world, namely: Africa, the Americas, Europe, Arab countries and the Asia-Pacific. They differ in their origin, resulting from different concepts of human rights and the need of interested states to establish a regional framework for human rights protection. The level and scope of their human rights protection is obviously uneven, although this protection is generally higher in regions with democratic states that have constitutional and rule of law regimes in which human rights are considered an integral part of their constitutional architecture. However, current practice confirms that the creation of judicial systems for the protection of human rights within the context of concrete regions does not automatically guarantee the right of direct access of individuals to them. The regional particularities of locus standi result from a set of factors having historic, religious, ethnic and other nature. In the institutional system of protection of human rights, these particularities manifest also through the optional (non-compulsory) jurisdiction of regional judicial bodies, the preventive ‘filtering’ systems before non-judicial bodies (commissions) combined with the right to bring the case before a judicial body, the systems where different entities are entitled to bring the case before a judicial body but the individual has no such right etc. Nevertheless, the existing practice generally confirms the increasing role of the judicial segment of the regional human rights systems as well as the strengthening of position of individuals within the proceedings before regional human rights judicial and non-judicial bodies. A specific factor in the developing world represents the concept of a ‘strict’ interpretation of sovereignty preventing external control of the respect for human rights before a regional judicial body on the basis of an individual complaint by a concerned person. The specificities of regional systems are without detriment to their widely accepted advantages and benefits. Regional systems allow for the possibility of regional values to be taken into account when human rights norms are defined (e.g. so-called collective rights and duties within the African system), provided that the idea of the universality of human rights is not compromised. The regional systems are located closer to the individual human rights subjects and offer a more accessible forum in which individuals can pursue their cases, and states tend to show stronger political will to conform to decisions of regional human rights bodies. The existence of the regional human rights systems finally allows for the existence of proper enforcement mechanisms, which can better reflect local conditions than a global (universal) system of enforcement.

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