Universiteit Leiden

nl en


The more the better? The complementarity of United Nations Institutions in the fight against torture

This article devises a framework to assess the degree to which human rights bodies provide duplicating or contradicting recommendations to States. Focusing on the case of torture, it creates an original database of recommendations delivered to 14 countries in the years 2012–2016. Results show that duplications are frequent and provide opportunities to States to use the Universal Periodic Review to contest the implementation of treaty bodies’ recommendations. Contradictions are limited, although when they occur, they create room for States to selectively choose which recommendations to implement.

Valentina Carraro
03 November 2022
Read the full article here

The article presents key background information and briefly reviews the existing literature on the UPR and the treaty bodies. Furthermore, it provides the context for the case study of torture by clarifying the concept of ‘torture’ and the extent to which the norm of torture is contested by States. Additionally, this article assesses the complementarity of the human rights mechanisms and proposes a categorisation of recommendations and decisions by these mechanisms into five categories, based on the extent to which they overlap on issues of concern and recommended solutions. The article then traces and categorises all recommendations and decisions delivered by the UPR and relevant treaty bodies to 14 UN Member States on issues of torture, in the period 2012–2016. Moreover, it presents the findings of the study, highlighting States’ response to overlapping recommendations by tracing the acceptance patterns of UPR recommendations. Finally, the author discusses the consequences of overlaps for the complementarity of human rights mechanisms and the relevance of the article's findings, in light of the existing academic literature.

This website uses cookies.  More information.