Challenges in Accountability: Regional Human Rights Commissions

Regional human rights commissions are challenged in holding individuals accountable for human rights violations but have the potential to be transformative to international law. Accountability is not merely trying and punishing the person; rather accountability is a complicated process that presents the main challenges facing a regional human rights commission. These paramount problems are local interests and their influence, the proliferation of impunity, the capacity to deliver accountability, the sovereignty of the state, and the embeddedness of sovereignty within the processes and bodies of the United Nations (UN). However, these problems are not exclusive to regional human rights commissions, and the unique position and sensitivity a regional organization can provide highlights a potentially transformative process for international law.

Holding an individual accountable for human rights violations is not merely staging a trial and rendering a punishment. The person’s trial and punishment are certainly warranted; accountability for the actual abuse regardless of the person, however, is a complex process that involves every facet of international law. Juan Mendez and Javier Mareizucurrena (1999) refer to this as “affirmative obligations on the state” (p. 88). In summary of Mendez and Mareizucurrena (1999), these obligations are a duty to investigate, prosecute, punish those found guilty, and to provide truth to the victims and public. In continuing their summary, there is the requirement to provide certain measures of reparations to the victims and their families and to relieve and remove those who participated in the violations (p. 88). These obligations are crucial yet incredibly challenging to ensuring accountability for human rights abuses. This essay holds the argument that accountability for the alleged individual and the abuse committed are two unique things but that they cannot be separated because victims of abuse are seeking accountability for human rights violations.

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Displace the Definition of Refugee: Reforming Refugee Regime

We must redefine the norms and understandings of all refugees in the 21st century. The definition a refugee needs to be broadened and non-refoulment needs to be strengthened. Under the current refugee regime definitions, there are numerous groups that can be excluded from asylum. Regarding non-refoulment, nations have turned to containment, often external to national borders, to confine refugees versus resettlement to new homes. Refugees who are denied refugee status under the current criteria, and therefore are barred from help, will still seek refuge away from their home. Containment facilities act as a gravity pit of exclusion that possibly strips refugees of many basic human rights. These problems are manifested in refugee containment, illegal smuggling, and a rise in fear-based border control rhetoric. Increased refugee numbers can come about progressively and humanely, or it can come about with increased divisiveness. Either way, displaced migration will continue to be pervasive with events both natural and man-made.

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Presidential Authority: How the Ink Dries in Post-9/11

Did we start the post-9/11 frenzy of military activity legally? Did the President and subsequent leaders follow the constitution of the United States of America? To many Americans, these types of questions surrounding the terrorist attack on 9/11 and legality cause an audience to squirm and fidget. Understandably so, post-9/11 military activity appears to be held to much more scrutiny and confusion than previous campaigns. This essay, however, is going to attempt to rationalize, defend and attack three main focal points of presidential authority post-9/11. Firsthand, the removal of the Taliban government in Afghanistan was legal and warranted after the incident on 9/11. Indefinite detention of alleged combatants is not legal and is not supported in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (S.J.Res.23). The final focal point is not nearly as straightforward as the previous two points. Drone technology places the President and US at a cross-roads in definition and accountability that could end up being quite dangerous. This essay posits the use of drone technology in Pakistan is legal simply because it is not illegal. Before making any argument, understanding the dialogue on authority and the debate surrounding these questions must be highlighted.

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The Recipe is Unrealistic: Realism’s Critique of International Law

In critiquing international law (IL), the theory of realism is at its weakest when rebuffing critical theories of international relations (IR) that contribute to building discourse surrounding IL. The argument of John J. Mearsheimer, that critical theory cannot predict which discourse will replace realism but that it does, in fact, posit that realism will be replaced, shall be examined in detail (Mearsheimer, 1995, p. 44). Is a theory actually any less valid if it does not absolutely solve a problem, but only recognizes there is a problem? In effect, Mearsheimer might also be hinting at critical theory lacking the ability to predict potential outcomes in IR. Using constructivism, interactional legal theory (ILT) and his example of fascist discourse, the argument for critical theory containing predictive attributes will be made.

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