“Accession of the European Union to the United Nations Human Rights Treaties: Explaining the Reasons for Inaction”, Monika de Silva (College of Europe, Bruges)

This paper explores the puzzling question why the European Union (EU) – as a strong promoter of human rights in external affairs – does not seek accession to most of the United Nations (UN) human rights treaties. Several possible explanatory factors derived from preliminary research are examined: the EU’s internal and external context, the added value of accession, and the degree of internalization of the human rights norms in the EU. The example of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which the EU seeks to accede, is used for comparison. Based on an analysis of documents and secondary literature as well as interviews with various experts, the paper argues that the low level of internalization accounts best for the lack of EU interest in the ratification of the UN human rights treaties. The other variables are not really different from the case of the ECHR and make accession to the UN framework, in some aspects, even comparatively more attractive for the EU.

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