united nations organisation

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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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 : https://doi.org/10.1163/19426720-02404008

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.