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Working paper series

The Institute for Human Rights working paper series publishes ‘work in progress’.

The Institute for Human Rights working paper series welcomes submissions on a broad range of international issues, primarily (but not exclusively) related to human rights. Although the Institute primarily conducts legal research, submissions are also welcomed from related disciplines. The working papers are published at irregular intervals. The purpose of the series is to publish work in progress. However, submissions should be completed papers/articles and of scientific interest.

Instructions for authors

For more information and submissions, contact: Viljam Engström vengstro@abo.fi

No. 2/2024
Legal Implications of the Non-Application of International Human Rights Law by Cities: Paying for Your Mistakes?
Author: Lisa Grans
Abstract: It is undisputed that cities are expected to comply with the international legal obligations of their nation state within the scope of their mandate and in accordance with national law. What is discussed in this paper is what the legal consequences are when cities voluntarily commit to implement selected international human rights norms beyond what national law or central government policies require or, conversely, fail to implement international human rights law as mandated by national law and policies. In this way, the paper seeks to provide an overview of legal aspects of local implementation of international human rights law of relevance to cities.

No. 1/2024
Title: Civil Participation in Finnish Municipalities in Relation to the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government
Author: Markku Suksi
Abstract: The paper connects civil participation with the various forms of participation established in the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority. Leaving aside local government elections, the forms of participation at the local level reviewed here include consultative processes, local referendums and petitions and various measures to involve people at a level close to them. In addition, procedures for access to official documents, measures for meeting the needs of categories of persons who face particular obstacles in participating and mechanisms and procedures for dealing with and responding to complaints and suggestions regarding the functioning of local authorities and local public services are dealt with. These issues are studied from the perspective of the Finnish local government legislation by taking into account preparatory documents of national law and relevant court cases interpreting the various measures of non-electoral participation. Under the Additional Protocol, the state is under an obligation to provide in law for mechanisms of participation at the local government level, but the Additional Protocol itself does not appear to provide for rights that are directly actionable by the inhabitants of a municipality. A municipality should therefore provide mechanisms of participation that involve its inhabitants. The review shows that Finnish law creates and implements mechanisms required by the Additional Protocol to the extent that it is possible to say that by and large, Finland is in compliance with the Additional Protocol and that the local government legislation in Finland opens up several avenues of civil participation for the inhabitants.

No. 2/2023
Otsikko: Kestävän kehityksen tavoitteet ja ihmisoikeudet paikallistasolla: ihmisoikeusperustainen näkökulma Turun kaupungin ilmastotavoitteisiin
Kirjoittaja: Kristiina Vainio
Tiivistelmä: Selvitys taustoittaa ensiksi kestävän kehityksen tavoitteiden ja ihmisoikeuksien välistä suhdetta sekä yleisellä tasolla että erityisesti ihmisoikeuskaupunki­kontekstissa. Toiseksi siinä luodaan katsaus ilmastonmuutokseen ja ilmastotekoihin ihmisoikeusnäkökulmasta. Kolmanneksi tarkastellaan sitä, miten ihmisoikeudet on tunnistettu Turun kaupungin kestävän kehityksen ilmastotavoitteen­asettelussa, sellaisena kuin ne ilmenevät näitä tavoitteita koskevissa tärkeimmissä asiakirjoissa, erityisesti ensimmäisessä Turun kaupungin kestävän kehityksen tavoitteita koskevassa vapaaehtoisessa raportissa (VLR-raportti), jossa ilmastoteot oli valittu yhdeksi fokustavoitteista, sekä kaupungin ilmastosuunnitelmassa ja sitä koskevassa raportoinnissa. Tarkoituksena on tuottaa relevanttia taustatietoa sen selvittämiseksi, olisiko Turulle hyötyä ihmisoikeuksien integroimisesta kestävän kehityksen tavoitteisiin, toisin sanoen ihmisoikeusperustaisesta lähestymistavasta kestävään kehitykseen. Samalla pyritään myös vastaamaan kysymykseen siitä, millä tavalla ilmastotoimen­piteitä koskevaa tavoitteenasettelua ja prosesseja voitaisiin vahvistaa perus- ja ihmisoikeus­näkökulmasta. Selvitys on osa Ihmisoikeuskaupunki-hanketta, jota rahoitti Turun kaupunkitutkimusohjelma.

No. 1/2023
Title: Becoming a Human Rights City — Policy Brief
Authors: Kristiina Vainio, Lisa Grans, Mia Varho, Sara Strömberg and Elina Pirjatanniemi
Abstract: This Policy Brief was developed within the project Human Rights Cities – A framework for localising human rights, which was funded by the Turku Urban Research Programme. The aim of the paper, and the whole project, was to provide the city of Turku with background information enabling it to assess whether it would benefit from becoming Finland’s first human rights city. The paper does so by analysing the examples of four European human rights cities, namely Lund, Utrecht, Vienna and York. The analysis is based on a review of literature and online materials, complemented with expert interviews. The selected cities are analysed in respect of five key issues on which potential human rights cities need to take a stand, namely existence of an official commitment; processes to become a human rights city; human rights as legal standards versus human rights as values; human rights structures and resources; and human rights mainstreaming versus a sectoral approach. The study includes recommendations for future human rights cities. A key conclusion is that whatever approaches a city chooses, they should be implemented systematically. A human rights based approach (HRBA) would be the main tool to apply to achieve this.

No. 1/2022
Title: The European Court of Human Rights and (D)evolution of Family Life: An Analysis of the Paradiso and Campanelli Case
Author: Meiraf Tesfaye
Abstract: Because of divergent views on the ethics of surrogacy arrangements and the lack of consensus among states in that regard, cross-border surrogacy has become an increasingly sought after means of family creation for infertile persons. National courts have mainly resorted to private international law rules to recognize parentage determinations of foreign courts in cases where national laws prohibit one or all forms of surrogacy. Regional courts, such as the European and Inter-American human rights courts, have also passed judgments that reinforce this practice. However, in post-birth considerations for recognition of parentage, genetic link of the surrogate child with one or both intending/intended parents is required by most national laws and even regional courts. This working paper argues that this requirement defeats the very purpose of surrogacy arrangements to cure fertility problems as most infertile persons are unable to make a genetic contribution when entering surrogacy arrangements. It seeks to answer whether the pilot judgment on genetic link by the European Court of Human Rights in the Paradiso and Campanelli v. Italy case has narrowed down the meaning of family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and limited its applicability and protection in relation to certain infertile persons causing a difference in treatment of completely infertile persons. This will be done by comparing the Court’s analysis in the case with its previous case-law to show how protection was weakened by the judgment in the context of surrogacy arrangements where there is no genetic link between the parents and surrogate children.

No. 2/2021
Title: Discussing the Most Important Rights for Women in Iraq
Authors: Katri Gadd and Faleha Ubeis
Abstract: Over time, people incorporate certain legal norms and rules of social conduct and frequently, without conscious realisation, follow those norms and rules. In the lives of Iraqi women, those legal norms and rules originate, to mention but a few, from traditional values and duties, own/collective memory and experiences, religious, tribal and sectarian norms and identities. Occasionally, these multiple norms and rules contradict and might even prevent an individual from enjoying her legal rights. In order to maintain or gain cultural sensitivity in human rights discussions, it is essential to discover and comprehend the multiple ways in which human rights are understood and what kinds of rights are seen as important. In this working paper, the authors report their initial findings from a survey about women’s perceptions of their rights in Iraq and from the piloting in-depth interviews with 12 Iraqi women living in Iraq. The authors shed light on the most important rights for Iraqi women living in Iraq. Without claiming to be representing any unified opinion of all Iraqi women, the authors highlight some contradictions in legal norms and rules affecting these women’s lives and elucidate some relevant aspects that impede women’s access to rights in Iraq today.

No. 1/2021
Title: Social Protection Policies of International Organizations
Authors: Viljam Engström and Aliina Vegar
Abstract: Social protection is growing into a shared vocabulary through which to address issues of global justice. Global political support for social protection has been crystallized, for example, through the adoption of the UN Social Protection Floor Initiative, and in the Sustainable Development Goals. A vast number of international organizations have also in the past 10–15 years adopted social protection policies. The aim of this working paper is to start mapping this development, with special focus on the United Nations system (including UN specialized agencies, programs and funds). It strives to identify social protection policies of organizations and to highlight some key elements of those policies. This working paper is part of ongoing work on social protection policies of international organizations. The material presented has been gathered mainly in early 2021 through systematic searches of databases, as well as through social protection literature.

No. 1/2020
Democratic Legitimacy in EU Migration Policies
Katri Gadd, Viljam Engström and Barbara Grabowska-Moroz 
This working paper discusses legitimacy challenges in the internal and the external dimension of EU migration policies. It puts particular emphasis on migration policies related to asylum, which has been the most contested aspect of migration ever since the so-called migration crisis. For this reason, it is also in this area that the need is most urgent for reconciling the EU with its citizens. The working paper evaluates the (democratic) legitimacy of EU migration policies by assessing four interconnected themes. First, it asks what the framework is from which to assess the democratic legitimacy of the EU. Secondly, the working paper identifies issues of democratic legitimacy that EU migration governance gives rise to. Thirdly, the paper turns to the complex interplay of values and preferences in migration issues, and the impact of that interplay on EU legitimacy. Fourth, the paper looks at the impact of populism and post-truth politics on the perceived legitimacy of EU migration policies. This working paper has been published within the research project RECONNECT – Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and Rule of Law.

No. 2/2019
Beröva terrorister medborgarskap — ett försök att trygga säkerheten på bekostnad av mänskliga rättigheter?
Författare: Lovisa Östman
Abstrakt: De senaste årens terrordåd och de tusentals gästkrigare som rest till Syrien för att ansluta sig till IS har fått myndigheter världen över att tillgripa allt mer rigorösa säkerhetsåtgärder. En av dessa åtgärder är att frånta medborgarskap från individer som betraktas som farliga för samhället, för att sedan kunna utvisa dessa. Åtgärdens lämplighet kan dock ifrågasättas av flera olika orsaker, inte minst för att medborgarskap anses vara en mänsklig rättighet. Denna artikel belyser varför medborgarskapet fyller en viktig funktion inom folkrätten och varför fråntagande av medborgarskap som resulterar i statslöshet är problematiskt.

No. 1/2019
: Grassroots Social Movements: A New Narrative on Human Rights in Africa?
Author: Prosper S. Maguchu
Abstract: Recent geopolitical developments worldwide have led to a paradigm shift in both the context and strategies of doing human rights work in Africa. Grassroots social movements are increasingly allowing citizens to take a centre stage and in some cases to circumvent traditional actors in the promotion and protection of human rights; from Algeria to Zimbabwe both from the bottom up, and as a conversation space through which citizens come to terms with their own power to make a difference. This paper investigates the extent to which grassroots efforts which are mostly intertwined with other issues such as governance, anti-corruption and politics, could significantly resonate at the broadest possible level, shaping resilient futures and empowering communities to asset their rights. It aims to shine new light on the interfacing and intersectionality of grassroots social movements and human rights discourse in Africa as a potential new frontier for safeguarding and entrenchment of human rights.

No. 1/2018
Why Environmentally Displaced Persons from Low-lying Island Nations Are Not Climate “Refugees”: A Legal Analysis
Author: Michel Rouleau-Dick
Abstract: While the media often use the term “climate refugee”, its legal significance is, at best, uncertain. “Refugee” is a legal term, defined by Article 1A of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. Thus, when the populations in danger of being displaced by the effects of climate change are referred to as “climate refugees”, the implicit assumption is that they qualify for the legal status of refugees, according to its legal definition. This working paper clarifies the situation by analysing if environmentally displaced persons from low-lying island states, those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,  would, upon leaving their country of origin, qualify as refugees under the legal definition of the term. The paper also assesses the relevance of the non-refoulement principle, another element of the international framework of protection of internationally displaced persons.

No. 1/2017
Multinational Peace Operations in Armed Conflicts: Identifying the Party
Author: Christian Saja
Abstract: Identifying the parties to an armed conflict is highly important, as it is a prerequisite for international humanitarian law to be able to fulfil its purpose. Many present-day conflicts involve a multinational element, such as an international peace operation. The paper discusses the problem of identifying who can be regarded as a party to a conflict on the multinational side, in particular in the context of UN and NATO operations. Three options in particular are examined: the troop-contributing nation, the international organisation or some combination of the two.

No. 1/2016
Title: The Political Economy of Austerity and Human Rights Law
Author: Viljam Engström
Abstract: The ’Great recession’ that has been ongoing since 2008 has had a serious impact on the realization of economic and social rights in many countries. When the balancing between limited economic resources and the discretion granted to states for the realization of economic and social rights results in an adverse impact on the lives of individuals, the attention is commonly turned to improving the state of the protection scheme. Yet, as the economic crisis has re-invoked practically all classical debates concerning economic and social rights, it has also revealed the depth of the controversies involved. Further development of the economic and social rights protection scheme in face of austerity measures may therefore be an insurmountable task.



Updated 22.4.2024