Thursday 31 May 2018 at 10.30h Miss Julie Fraser BA, LLB, LLM (law departement) defends her dissertation titled “Every organ of society”: Exploring the role of social institutions in the effective implementation of international human rights law.
While human rights apply universally and have been articulated as binding law in numerous international treaties, rights continue to be poorly implemented and violated around the world, revealing a gap between law and practice. This indicates the insufficiency of purely legalistic and state-centric approaches to human rights protection. The poor implementation and violation of rights also relates to their ongoing contestation, such as that presented by the cultural relativist and postcolonial critiques. Numerous scholars have addressed these critiques, with some proposing ways to reconcile human rights with diverse cultures. This dissertation examines such culturally sensitive approaches to human rights, which advocate the inclusion of local cultural norms and actors (social institutions) in domestic implementation. The purpose of such approaches is not only to promote the effective implementation of rights (based on the local legitimacy of social insitutions), but also to duly respect cultural diversity.
Fraser argues that such approaches are permitted by international human rights law, which grants States broad discretion in how to realise rights domestically, and permits the use of non-legislative measures of implementation and a role for non-state actors. Through a qualitative, multi-disciplinary case study, the dissertation explores these issues in context, examining the role of Islamic law and institutions (social institutions) in implementing women’s right to family planning in Indonesia. Based on this analysis, the dissertation advocates further consideration by the UN treaty bodies and States parties of rights implementation beyond the possibilities offered by formal State institutions and to include also social institutions.