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Access to Justice and International Organizations

The Case of Individual Victims of Human Rights Violations Pierre Schmitt, Legal Secretary, General Court of the European Union and Associate Fellow, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium
Recent examples such as the cholera outbreak in Haiti demonstrate that individual victims of human rights violations by international organizations are frequently left in the cold. Following an examination of the human rights obligations of international organizations, this book scrutinizes their dispute settlement mechanisms as well as the conflict between their immunities and the right of access to justice before national jurisdictions. It concludes with normative proposals addressed both to international organizations and to national judges confronted with such cases.
Extent: 400 pp
Hardback Price: $160.00 Web: $144.00
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78643 288 9
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  • Law - Academic
  • Human Rights
  • Public International Law
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Human Rights
This groundbreaking book offers a compelling articulation of the right of access to justice for individuals facing human rights violations by international organizations. Following an examination of the human rights obligations of a variety of international organizations, the author scrutinizes their dispute settlement mechanisms as well as the conflict between their immunities and the right of access to justice before national jurisdictions.

Highlighting recent examples, such as the cholera outbreak in Haiti, this book reveals how individual victims of human rights violations by international organizations are frequently left in the cold, due to the lack of an independent, impartial dispute settlement mechanism before which they can file such claims. Considering both global mechanisms and current mechanisms established by international organizations such as administrative jurisdictions for employment-related disputes, Pierre Schmitt finds that they either are not competent or that they have a limited scope. He concludes by offering normative proposals addressed both to international organizations and to national judges confronted with such cases.

Offering a wealth of empirical and practical wisdom, this book will appeal to scholars in public international law and human rights. It is also a must-read for practitioners, judges and legal advisers working in the field and will prove a useful tool for national authorities negotiating immunity conventions with international organizations.

‘Accountability fares high on the agenda of international lawyers. In this context, international organizations, long the embodiment of progress, have become suspect and the object of intense scrutiny. In his book, Pierre Schmitt provides us with a comprehensive and timely treatment of the legal avenues (and the limitations thereof) by virtue of which international organizations can be held accountable for human rights violations while also making audacious proposals. In doing so, he usefully continues international lawyers’ quest for greater accountability in international society.’
– Jean d’Aspremont, University of Manchester, UK and University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

‘This book tackles a complex question of contemporary international law and international life – legal remedies for individuals vis-à-vis international organizations. Focusing on human rights violations, it carefully analyses the institutional and procedural aspects of the right of access to justice, the procedural remedies currently available, and the effects of an intersection with immunity law. The book is an important resource for anyone working with the theory or practice of international organizations and human rights.’
– Catherine Brölmann, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

‘As calls for a better balance between the immunity of international organizations and the legal protection of individuals become louder, this timely study not only analyses the tension between these two fundamental legal principles, but also presents a number of recommendations to solve the problem. This book is an essential contribution to a debate that has direct implications for all of those affected by the decisions of international organizations.’
– Ramses A. Wessel, University of Twente, the Netherlands
Contents: 1. Setting the scene 2. International organizations’ human rights obligations 3. Right of access to justice 4. International dispute settlement mechanisms 5. National jurisdictions and the immunities of international organizations 6. General conclusions and normative proposals Index