Author name: helenedoetsch

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.

Thomas Conzelmann presents at EDRC Seminar

On Friday, 18 January 2019, Prof. Thomas Conzelmann presents key results from the PROM research projects at a conference by the OECD.

The conference is organised as seminar where participants engage with the peer review procedure in the Economic and Development Review Committee of the OECD. The goal of the seminar is not only to inform about the peer review in the OECD but to also show best practices of peer review mechanisms in international organizations. In fact, the WTO, the United Nations or the Council of Europe make use of peer mechanisms to uphold fruitful communication or as tool to address various issues through peer pressure.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn from the conclusions of the Peer Review Observatory Maastricht: What precisely gives a peer review de facto authority and why would member states listen to peer advice? These and other questions will be adressed in an open discussion at the EDRC symposium.
The event is one good example how the PROM project contributes to the practical assessment of peer review mechanisms worldwide.

You are looking for more information on the  various aspects of peer reviews and what the PROM has found? Find access to our project publications here.



Open access to article published in Global Governance

Valentina Carraro and Hortense Jongen have successfully published their research paper in the academic journal Global Governance in October 2018.

The research article ‘Leaving the Doors Open or Keeping Them Closed? The Impact of Transparency on the Authority of Peer Reviews in International Organizations’ discusses the impact of transparency on the authority of peer reviews in international organizations.

The article is part of Global Governance, Volume 24, No.4, 2018.
Open access :

Read the abstract:
Although transparency is frequently employed to enhance the legitimacy of public organizations, several scholars point to its potentially negative implications. This study analyzes the impact of transparency on the authority of peer reviews in international organizations. Authority, here conceived as rooted in legitimacy beliefs, is crucial for peer reviews to produce effects. This research is based on results from an online survey and forty-three interviews with actors involved in two United Nations peer reviews: the Universal Periodic Review in human rights and the Implementation Review Mechanism in the fight against corruption. The article shows that transparency positively affects the perceived development of pressure, yet negatively influences mutual learning and appears to be unable to ensure equal treatment of states.