New chapter on OECD peer reviews to appear in September 2023

Another PROM publication is in the pipeline, this time dealing with peer reviews in the OECD. Beyond the cases of the Economic and Development Review Committee and the Working Group on Bribery covered in the main project, the chapter also looks at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The publication, which is part of an edited volume edited by Claudio Radaelli and Fabrizio de Francesco, will appear in September 2o23.

Publication details:

Conzelmann, T. (2023). Peer reviews in the OECD. In F. de Francesco & C. M. Radaelli (Eds.), The Elgar companion to the OECD (forthcoming). Edward Elgar.


The OECD utilizes peer reviews in most of the policy domains where it has competences. Building on the idea of peer learning, mutual transparency and the search for best practices, peer reviews aim at the alignment of member state policies with international standards. This can happen through benchmarking and collective learning among the peers, or through the more robust techniques of peer and public pressure to push member states towards compliance. The present chapter discusses how peer reviews may create effects at the domestic level and probes into three examples of peer review in the OECD, covering different policy fields and using different approaches. The comparison between them shows differences in the use of different compliance logics and the relative influence of the OECD bureaucracy, the peer states, and the reviewed state. Critics of peer reviews refer to limited effectiveness in triggering policy alignment. This may overlook important indirect effects of peer reviews. Challenges for peer reviews in the OECD are high administrative workload and the organization’s growing and increasingly diverse membership.

New article by Thomas Conzelmann on EU rule of law peer review

As PROM moves on to new ventures, Thomas has started to look at another peer review not covered in the original project design. This is the EU’s recently installed rule of law peer review. It reviews the compliance of all EU member states with rule of law standards and this adds to the EU’s toolbox in the field.

Publication details:

Conzelmann, T. (2022). Peer reviewing the rule of law? A new mechanism to safeguard EU values. European Papers. A Journal on Law and Integration, 7(2), 671–695. https://doi.org/10.15166/2499-8249/593

Abstract: The possible remedies that the EU can use against backsliding on the rule of law are limited: While art. 7 TEU has been widely conceived as ineffective, the recently introduced budget conditionality may become bogged down in court cases. Softer instruments like the Commission Rule of Law Report provide observations on rule of law developments, but are in themselves unable to address transgressions. Against this background, the Council has recently introduced a peer review mechanism that may exert peer and public pressure on transgressors. However, the agreed procedures show important deficits such as lacking transparency to the outside world, limited time devoted to the review, and the absence of clear country-specific recommendations that could become the focus of peer and public pressure. The new procedure thus needs reform to achieve results. A comparison with peer reviews among states in other international organizations show the potential that peer reviewing holds.

UN FACTI panel report published, PROM researchers contribute

The UN FACTI panel report has been published earlier this week. Valentina Carraro and Hortense Jongen were invited to contribute to the report with an independent expert advice.

The report, as adopted by a high-level UN panel, deals with improving global financial accountability, transparency and integrity. Part of the report deals with the monitoring and implementation of the measures. The respective recommendations by the panel focus on a reform of the UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanism and the reduction of overlap between the various peer reviews in the filed. These recommendation echo the findings of the PROM project and the work of Valentina and Hortense.

Read the entire UN FACTI panel report here.

The submission by Hortense and Valentina to the UN FACTI panel can be accessed here.

Valentina Carrao starts at Leiden University

Valentina Carraro has started a new position at the University of Leiden. She is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) and the Institute of Political Science, and Deputy Coordinator of the Global Transformations and Governance Challenges (GTGC) programme.

Find her contact details here.

Valentina Carraro and Hortense Jongen advise UN FACTI panel

At the request of High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda Financing for Sustainable Development (FACTI), Valentina Carraro, Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Groningen, and Hortense Jongen, Assistant Professor in International Relations at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, reviewed the effectiveness of the peer review mechanisms of six of the most important anticorruption and financial integrity agreements:

  • the Implementation Review Mechanism of the United Nations Convention against Corruption,
  • the Follow-Up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC),
  • the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development Working Group on Bribery (OECD Antibribery Convention),
  • the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes,
  • the Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting,
  • the Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force-Style Regional Bodies.

You can find a summary of their findings and recommendations here, and their paper here.  (Background on the FACTI and a link to its interim report recommending changes in international and domestic laws to combat corruption and stem  illicit financial flows is here.)

Hortense Jongen starts at VU Amsterdam

After concluding a postdoctoral position at the University of Gothenburg, Dr Hortense Jongen has assumed a position as Assistant Professor of International Relations at the VU Amsterdam. Her contact details can be retrieved here. 

International Studies Quarterly publishes article on Human Rights Compliance

The prestigious Journal International Studies Quarterly has published the article “Promoting Compliance with Human Rights” by Valentina Carraro open access.

In this article Carraro compares the Performance of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review and Treaty Bodies and concludes that the Treaty Bodies can improve human rights compliance by providing learning opportunities for states while the UPR’s performance is mainly generated through public pressure.


What mechanisms facilitate state compliance with human rights? This article proposes and applies a model to assess the extent to which two United Nations human rights mechanisms—the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the state reporting procedure of the treaty bodies—are perceived as capable of stimulating compliance with human rights, and why. It does so by identifying a set of goals potentially achieved by these organizations—generating pressure, stimulating learning, providing an accurate overview of states’ performance, and delivering practically feasible recommendations—and testing the extent to which reaching these goals is seen to facilitate compliance with human rights. It concludes that the treaty bodies’ perceived strength lies in providing states with learning opportunities and an accurate overview of their internal situations. In contrast, the UPR is deemed particularly strong in generating peer and public pressure on states. From a theoretical point of view, this article shows that, under certain conditions, the three main theoretical schools on compliance—enforcement, management, and constructivist—offer credible explanations for states’ performance in implementing human rights recommendations, with the enforcement school faring relatively better than the other two. Data were collected by means of forty semi-structured interviews and an online survey.


You can find the article open access here.

More information about the journal International Studies Quarterly.


Hortense Jongen receives UM Dissertation Award

Each year, Maastricht University awards a prize for the best dissertation defended. This year,
Hortense Jongen was chosen among five other nominees and awarded with the UM Dissertation Award 2018. We are very proud that Hortense received this prestigious UM prize, also because her PhD project was part of the PROM: In her dissertation Hortense examined the authority of peer reviews in the global fight against corruption.

New publication in ‘European Journal of International Relations’

The European Journal of International Relations accepted the article Electing the Experts: Expertis and independence in the UN Human Rights treaty bodies’ by Valentina Carraro. The paper studies the formal and informal processes leading to the appointment of expert committees at the UN and shows that the level of independent expertise is surprisingly high – considering the extensive political electoral process.

Read the abstract:
Independent experts are employed in international organizations to carry out a variety of functions, including conducting independent evaluations of state performance in a given policy area. In the field of human rights, a well-known example of the use of independent expertise in public organizations is that of the United Nations treaty bodies, committees of independent experts in charge of monitoring state compliance with the major United Nations human rights treaties. Considering the sensitive tasks that these experts perform, and the fact that they are elected by states, the question of whether they actually possess the required levels of independence and expertise to fulfil their role arises. This article proposes and applies a framework to study the formal and informal processes leading to the appointment of expert committees in international bodies, and to assess their level of expertise and independence. Data were collected by means of an original survey and 40 semi-structured interviews. The article shows that the overall level of independent expertise possessed by committees is surprisingly high when considering the highly political electoral process. Therefore, it argues that to study the expertise and independence of expert committees, one should conceive of them as groups that might be able to maintain a certain independence from the states that have elected them.


You can find access to previous publications also on our project publications.



Open access article published in ‘Cooperation and Conflict’

Cooperation and Conflict now includes open to our article ‘Fears of peers? Explaining peer and public shaming in global governance‘. The paper contributes to the academic literature by looking more deeply at what is truly striking about peer reviews among states: Why do some states adopt policies suggested under peer pressure and others do not?

Read the abstract for further information:
This article conducts a comparative analysis of peer and public pressure in peer reviews among states. Arguing that such pressure is one increasingly important form of shaming in global politics, we seek to understand the extent to which five different peer reviews exert peer and public pressure and how possible variation among them can be explained. Our findings are based on responses to an original survey and semi-structured interviews among participants in the reviews. We find that peer and public pressure exist to different degrees in the peer reviews under study. Such differences cannot be explained by the policy area under review or the international organization in which peer reviews are organized. Likewise, the expertise of the actors involved in a peer review or perceptions of the legitimacy of peer review as a monitoring instrument do not explain the variation. Instead, we find that institutional factors and the acceptance of peer and public pressure among the participants in a peer review offer the best explanations.

More publications can also be found here.