What is the Role of Professional and Civil Society Organisations Beyond International Legal Mechanisms of Implementing Human Rights Treaties?
Abstract: The thesis is divided into six chapters. Chapter 1 is the introduction while chapter 2 really starts the discourse. Chapter 2 is titled, the Challenges of Implementing International Human Rights Treaties-Background, it outlines the international mechanisms of implementation envisaged by the treaties and indicates that the treaties originate at the international plane but are designed for implementation at both the international and domestic planes, the domestic being the envisaged primary level of implementation. It then sought to establish that implementation at the domestic level is froth with very many challenges and that low-level of implementation is evident in many jurisdictions. Further discussions in this chapter reveal that much as it is desirable that international mechanisms reach into the various domestic systems and instigate implementation, international mechanisms are limited in this regard by independence and sovereignty of states&semic lack of incentive for inter-state complaints&semic and non-incorporation of the treaties into domestic jurisdictions. The chapter concludes by suggesting professional and civil society organisations as viable alternative agents of implementation. Chapter 3 is on the international law basis for the participation of the organisations. Starting from UN Charter provisions, to UN Declarations/Resolutions and down to treaty provisions as interpreted by treaty monitoring bodies, the chapter reveals a clear call for all persons, including groups and institutions to promote and defend human rights and suggests a duty to the same end including through education and dissemination of relevant information. Professional and civil society organisations are lucidly included in this call. The chapter concludes by inquiring into whether there is indeed an obligation on professional and civil society organisations to participate by answering the call embodied in the examined instruments particularly regarding human rights education. Chapter 4 is on the role of professional organisations in human rights education. Three levels of education are discussed, primary/secondary, tertiary and legal education. The organisations identified as having the potentials to contribute to treaty implementation through education include the various teachers union at the primary/ secondary level, Lecturers union and regulatory bodies as well as trade unions and associations of the different professions that contribute to the education delivery system. For legal education, law teachers associations were identified as well as the different bar associations and law societies. The underlying consideration in the chapter is that these organisations are capable of contributing to the building of a positive human rights culture that will in turn facilitate treaty implementation&semic after all, the students of today are the policy makers, judges and legislators of tomorrow. Chapter 5 pays tribute to NGOs and highlights participation in the political process, leading to treaty implementation&semic litigation and other legal processes&semic public education&semic research and generation of policy alternatives as well as training for judges as examples of the very important roles that civil society organisations can play towards treaty implementation efforts. Chapter 6 is the conclusion and it discusses some problems inherent in the identified roles and in the operation of professional and civil society organisations. It emphasises the UN Technical Cooperation Programme in the Field of Human Rights as an example of available solutions and issues a few words of concern on the running of technical cooperation programmes, which if ameliorated, would enhance the role of professional and civil society organisation.
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