Fragmentation and Integration in Human Rights Law
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Fragmentation and Integration in Human Rights Law

Users’ Perspectives

Edited by Eva Brems and Saïla Ouald-Chaib

From the perspective of rights holders and duty bearers, human rights law appears as an increasingly complex field of law, consisting of different levels, actors and norms. The fragmentation of human rights law has resulted in an uncoordinated legal architecture that may in some circumstances create obstacles for effective human rights protection. Against this background, this volume examines how to make sense – in both theoretical and practical terms - of these multiple layers of human rights law through which human rights users have to navigate.
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Chapter 7: Smart human rights integration

Eva Brems


This chapter focuses on diversity/fragmentation as a desirable issue in a context of human rights integration. The chapter develops a ‘smart’ concept of human rights integration that strives for an appropriate balance between integration and fragmentation. Such human rights integration is not to be confused with a project of unification of human rights. The chapter first briefly describes the state of the art with regard to fragmentation and integration in human rights law, including scholarly debates on this issue. Next, the chapter makes the case for increased integration compared to the status quo. The main part of the chapter then identifies and analyses several arguments/rationales for limits to human rights integration. These are categorized under three headings: specialisation, contextualisation and experimentation. Finally, the chapter argues that the success of smart human rights integration is not to be assessed in terms of outcomes, but in terms of process, and that its central feature is thus a global human rights conversation. The idea is not so much that one human rights monitoring body acts in the same way or comes to the same conclusion as another body on the same issue, but rather that it is informed about what others do/have done, and reflects upon the desirability of adopting the same approach.

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