Top 40 Winner Human Rights Blog

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

National Implementation of International Human Rights Obligations: Legislation and “Other” Effective Measures

Julie Fraser PhD Candidate Receptor Approach
Campaigns to combat HIV/AIDS and to remove the stigma that patients often face have not always been effective. The assumption upon which this Seminar is based is that the effectiveness of human rights protections may be enhanced by relying on local culture. While not dealing directly with the topic of combatting HIV/AIDS, this paper discusses the legal issues surrounding the use of culture to protect international human rights. The central question addressed is whether it is permissible under public international law for States to utilize culture - or other social institutions - to protect domestic human rights and uphold their international obligations?

The Receptor Approach seeks to accommodate “non-Western” methods of human rights protection within public international law. The Approach identifies pre-existing social institutions – such as culture or traditional medicine - that can be relied upon by the State to meet its international human rights obligations. The Receptor Approach works from the premise that human rights may be implemented – and even more effectively implemented - through non-legal means like social institutions.

This paper contends that States are not always obliged to legally incorporate international human rights treaties, and that they have discretion in implementation. When considering such measures of implementation, the focus is not on the method adopted but on their efficacy. Therefore, it is submitted that, subject to certain conditions, there is scope within the UN system for the Receptor Approach to implementation of human rights obligations.