The Human Rights Covenants at 50: Their Past, Present, and Future

ISBN : 9780198825890

Daniel Moeckli; Helen Keller; Corina Heri
384 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2018
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  • The first comprehensive work taking stock of the first 50 years of the human rights covenants
  • Authored by experts with diverse regional, theoretical and professional backgrounds
  • Constitutes a unique resource on the key challenges facing the international human rights system today
  • Contains an assessment of the influence of the human rights covenants in the five regions of the world
  • Interdisciplinary coverage of diverse issues

Half a century ago, on 16 December 1966, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). While the adoption of the two UN human rights covenants was celebrated all over the world, their 50th anniversary has received very little attention from the international community. The present book marks this anniversary by taking stock of the first half-century of the existence of what are probably the world's two most important human rights treaties. It does so by reflecting on what the covenants have achieved (or failed to achieve) in the years that have passed, by determining and comparing their current influence in the various regions of the world, and by assessing their potential roles in the future.

The book contains papers that were presented during a symposium held in Zurich in 2016, which brought together experts and stakeholders from a range of disciplines and world regions. Some fundamental issues that are addressed by the contributors are as old as the two covenants themselves. They concern, for example, the division of human rights into first- and second-generation rights, and the question of whether there should be one central monitoring body - possibly a world court - or more than just one. However, the contributors go beyond such questions that have been explored before; they develop new answers to old questions and point to new challenges.


1: Introduction, Helen Keller and Daniel Moeckli
Part I: The Past: What Have the Covenants (Not) Achieved?
2: The History of the Covenants: Looking Back Half a Century and Beyond, Maya Hertig Randall
3: Giving Meaning and Effect to Human Rights: The Contributions of Human Rights Committee Members, Gerald Neuman
4: Interpretation of the ICESCR: Between Morality and State Consent, Daniel Moeckli
5: The Role of NGOs in the Implementation of the Covenants, Patrick Mutzenberg
Part II: The Present: What Is the Influence of the Covenants?
6: Influence of the ICESCR in Africa, Manisuli Ssenyonjo
7: Influence of the ICCPR in the Middle East, Basak Çali
8: Influence of the ICESCR in the Americas, Mónica Pinto and Martin Sigal
9: Influence of the ICCPR in Asia, Yogesh Tyagi
10: Influence of the ICESCR in Europe, Amrei Müller
11: The Influence of the Two Covenants on States Parties Across Regions: Lessons for the Role of Comparative Law and of Regions in International Human Rights Law, Samantha Besson
Part III: The Future: What Should Become of the Covenants?
12: The Covenants in the Light of Anthropogenic Climate Change, Stephen Humphreys
13: The Covenants and Financial Crises, Christine Kaufmann
14: The Institutional Future of the Covenants: A World Court for Human Rights?, Felice Gaer

About the author: 

Edited by Daniel Moeckli, Assistant Professor of Public International Law and Constitutional Law, University of Zurich, and Helen Keller, Professor of Public Law, European and Public International Law and Judge, University of Zurich and the European Court of Human Rights

Consultant Editor Corina Heri, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Amsterdam

Daniel Moeckli is Assistant Professor of Public International Law and Constitutional Law at the University of Zurich and Fellow of the University of Nottingham Human Rights Law Centre. He is the author of Human Rights and Non-discrimination in the 'War on Terror'(OUP, 2008), for which he was awarded the Paul Guggenheim Prize, and Exclusion from Public Space (CUP, 2016) as well as co-editor of International Human Rights Law (OUP, 2017). Before joining the University of Zurich, he was a Lecturer at the University of Nottingham and worked for the International Bar Association, Amnesty International, and the Supreme Court of the Canton of Berne.

Helen Keller is Professor of Public Law, European and Public International Law at the University of Zurich and serves as a Judge at the European Court of Human Rights. Keller's research focuses on international human rights law, paying particular attention to the European Convention on Human Rights. She is, inter alia, the author of The Reception of International Law (2003; in German), the co-author of Friendly Settlements before the European Court of Human Rights (OUP, 2010) as well as the co-editor of Family Forms and Parenthood (2016), UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies - Law and Legitimacy (CUP, 2012), and A Europe of Rights: the Impact of the ECHR on National Legal Systems (OUP, 2008). In addition, she has published numerous articles in international peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.

Samantha Besson, University of Fribourg
Bacak Çali, Hertie School of Governance
Felice Gaer, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
Stephen Humphreys, London School of Economics
Maya Hertig Randall, Geneva University
Christine Kaufmann, University of Zurich
Helen Keller, University of Zurich
Daniel Moeckli, University of Zurich
Amrei Mueller, Queen's University Belfast
Patrick Mutzenberg, Centre for Civil and Political Rights
Gerald L Neuman, Harvard University
Mónica Pinto, University of Buenos Aires
Martin Sigal, University of Buenos Aires
Manisuli Ssenyonjo, Brunel University
Yogesh Tyagi, South Asian University

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