Geopolitics and Culture in the United Nations Human Rights Committee

Vera Shikhelman (Chicago Law School)

Abstract: The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the monitoring treaty body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is the closest international tribunal to a world court of human rights. This article seeks to explore if geopolitical and cultural considerations influence the votes of Committee Members in decisions on individual communications. This article introduces an original data set on the votes and backgrounds of Committee Members, hand coded by the author. The method used in the article is empirical-quantitative analyses of the Committee Members’ votes. The article finds that certain geographical and political voting patterns do exist in votes of Committee Members. Evidence for cultural voting patterns is more limited. However, the article finds that usually voting patterns of individual Committee Members do not influence the final decision of the Committee, and the decisions of the Committee should be generally regarded as unbiased.

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