The Effectiveness of the UN Human Rights System: Reform and the Judicialisation of Human Rights, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Effectiveness of the UN Human Rights System

Reform and the Judicialisation of Human Rights, 1st Edition

By Surya P. Subedi, OBE, QC (Hon)


288 pages

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9780367224240
pub: 2019-04-16
SAVE ~$9.99
Hardback: 9781138711532
pub: 2017-05-18
SAVE ~$29.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315200408
pub: 2017-05-18
from $24.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


The UN human rights agenda has reached the mature age of 70 years and many UN mechanisms created to implement this agenda are themselves in their middle-age, yet human rights violations are still a daily occurrence around the globe. The scorecard of the UN human rights mechanisms appears impressive in terms of the promotion, spreading of education and engaging States in a dialogue to promote human rights, but when it comes to holding governments to account for violations of these rights, the picture is much more dismal.

This book examines the effectiveness of UN mechanisms and suggests measures to reform them in order to create a system that is robust and fit to serve the 21st century. This book casts a critical eye on the rationale and effectiveness of each of the major UN human rights mechanisms, including the Human Rights Council, the human rights treaty bodies, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteurs and other Charter-based bodies. Surya P. Subedi argues most of the UN human rights mechanisms have remained toothless entities and proposes measures to reform and strengthen it by depoliticising the workings of UN human rights mechanisms and judicialising human rights at the international level.


Surya P. Subedi offers a scholar's diagnosis of what is wrong with the international human rights system and a practitioner's suggestions to fix it. Drawing on his experiences as an activist, an academic, and as a UN Special Rapporteur, he shows the possibilities and the limitations of this vital body of norms — and how they might translate from words to deeds.

Professor Simon Chesterman, National University of Singapore and Secretary-General, Asian Society of International Law

'An effective UN addresses and remedies human rights violations. At present the organization does not deliver. In this accessible book Professor Subedi provides a competent and comprehensive assessment of the UN human rights system which culminates in a compelling plea for reform including concrete and feasible suggestions for change.'

Karin Arts, Professor of International Law and Development, ISS, The Hague, The Netherlands

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: The place of human rights in the contemporary and globalised world

Chapter 2: The conceptual and international development of human rights

Chapter 3: Effectiveness of the UN human rights treaty bodies

Chapter 4: Effectiveness of the UN Human Rights Council and its challenges

Chapter 5: Effectiveness of the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights

Chapter 6: The UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs and their effectiveness in protecting human rights

Chapter 7: Effectiveness of other UN charter-based bodies and agencies associated with the UN

Chapter 8: Reform of the UN human rights system and the judicialisation of human rights at the international level


Select Bibliography


About the Author

Surya P. Subedi, OBE, QC (Hon), is Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds, member of the Institut de Droit International, former UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia and barrister at the Three Stone Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn, London.

About the Series

Human Rights and International Law

This series explores human right law's place within the international legal order, offering much-needed interdisciplinary and global perspectives on human rights' increasingly central role in the development and implementation of international law and policy.

Human Rights and International Law is committed to providing critical and contextual accounts of human rights' relationship with international law theory and practice. To achieve this, volumes in the series will focus on major debates in the field, looking at how human rights impacts on areas as diverse and divisive as security, terrorism, climate change, refugee law, migration, bioethics, natural resources and international trade.

Exploring the interaction, interrelationship and potential conflicts between human rights and other branches of international law, books in the series will address both historical development and contemporary contexts, before outlining the most urgent questions facing scholars and policy makers today.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / International
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Human Rights