Bulletin n. 1/2017
June 2017
  • Section A) The theory and practise of the federal states and multi-level systems of government
  • Section B) Global governance and international organizations
  • Section C) Regional integration processes
  • Section D) Federalism as a political idea
  • Roland Burke
    Disseminating discord and discovering the world: UN advisory services on human rights and the illusory faith in specialist knowledge
    in International Journal of Human Rights (The) , volume 21, issue 5 ,  2017 ,  589-610
    This article seeks to recover lessons of the global seminar series attached to the United Nations Advisory Services in Human Rights initiative. First proposed by the United States in 1953, the seminars flourished across the 1960s. They endeavoured to repartition human rights promotion into technical assistance, seeking a way around political conflict by recourse to experts, technocrats and specialist knowledge. Their origin represented a contradiction – the seminars sought to facilitate expert, ‘technical’ counsel on a concept that was inherently tied to profound ideological divisions. Failure in this setting was predictable, but the seminars themselves were a telling exhibit in the accidental facility for education that came with a roaming internationalism, and the consequent acquisition of interpersonal and experiential knowledge. Disappointing results for their prime aim, a technical road to human rights, were partially offset by the cultivation of a layperson appreciation of human rights and recognition of the limits to expertise. From the perspective of the early twenty-first century, and the substantial delta between the sophisticated institutional system of ‘Human Rights’, and the understanding of ‘human rights’ amongst many humans, the inadvertent and decidedly non-specialist successes of advisory services demonstrate the virtues of the prosaic and the intuitive.
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