Norms, Institutions and Practice
Edited by Alison Brysk and Michael Stohl
Chapter 4: Better late than never? The evolving responsibility of international organizations
This chapter takes a critical look at the evolving responsibility of international organizations (IOs) and the challenges facing efforts to hold them accountable for human rights violations. The main argument advanced here is that while IO responsibility, especially when contrasted with state responsibility, is considerably less developed, it offers a promising pathway to rights promotion and protection especially in light of the density of rule-based transnational interactions and the growth of institutional mechanisms and fora for advocacy and accountability. More specifically, IO practice has opened up several pathways to the pursuit of responsibility, with the most promising one being situations where IOs exercise sovereign state-type functions (administration of territories). However, whether examining IO activity in peace and security or in economic assistance, it is important to stress that none of the areas of IO activity are or can be perceived as strictly compartmentalized spaces. Rather, they are terrains on which the dynamic interplay between ongoing legal developments, reforms in response to internal and external pressures and the proliferation of monitoring platforms generate entry points for coordinated action to advance human rights claims.
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