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.


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