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Rationalising the Work of UN Human Rights Bodies or Reducing the Input of NGOs? The Changing Role of Human Rights NGOs at the United Nations

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The contribution of NGOs to the development of human rights standards at the United Nations is rooted in the UN Charter. In spite of NGO success in the creation of human rights norms, it appears that NGO input, particularly within the Human Rights Commission, is being scaled back for reasons of finance and efficiency. However, the reduction in NGO contribution also comes at a time when such organisations have been strongly criticised by States within the Human Rights Commission. This paper recognises that some criticism of NGOs may be justifiable. However, any moves to reorganise the workload of the Commission, where such moves are posited upon the need to curtail questionable NGO activity, need to be viewed extremely closely. There is already in place a highly regulatory mechanism which both vets NGOs' performance and regulates their participation. Reliance upon this mechanism to streamline NGO performance should obviate the need to sideline NGO participation as a consequence of workload rationalisation within the Human Rights Commission.


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