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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2005, Vol. 5 No. 1 .


The Prevention of Human Rights Violations
Linos-Alexander Sicilianos

The Hague, The Netherlands, Martinus Nijhoff Publications, 2001
303 pp HB 70 ISBN 90-411-1672-9.


This is a classic collection of edited articles set out in six different parts covering a vast array of different mechanisms for achieving preventative action in human rights violations. Part I of the book contains a collection of essays on conventional regimes, particularly focusing on the Convention for the Prevention of Torture, the National Framework for minorities, a comprehensive review of UN Treaties, an analysis of the development of International Humanitarian Law with the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the International Criminal Court being the template for this analysis. A final essay in Part I is dedicated to the International Criminal Court examining the way in which the court came into being with a focus on its role in the twenty-first century in providing accountability in human rights violations.

Part II specifically focuses on Non-Conventional Monitoring Mechanisms, such as the UN Special Rapporteurs which outlines their origins, current uses and their role in being a tool as a preventative mechanism for human rights violations. Additionally, this section examines the role of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe?s (OSCE) mission in creating an environment for action on human right violations. It also investigates the unique contribution that the European Commission for Democracy through Law makes to human rights through its advisory capacity, mediation, education role and promotion of European Standards. The final essay in Part II gives a good analysis of the monitoring mechanisms of the Council of Europe.

Part III analyses the unique role played by International Commissioners and Ombudsmen in the advancement of human rights. Part IV investigates the role National Ombudsmen and Human Rights Institutions play in advocating human rights principles. Part V concentrates on the emerging human rights culture with analysis geared towards the contribution of NGOs and the role education in human rights principles can play in advancing preventative action for human rights. Part VI is one final essay which seeks to address the fundamental challenge with the securement of human rights values.

The method used by the author in setting out the different parts has been useful in giving an over all investigation of the ?effectiveness? of normative standards in the human rights realm. The perspective taken in the book to analyse the ?effectiveness? of human rights has been from within the existing frameworks and mechanisms in order to assess how they can be used as a means to take preventative action for human rights violations in instilling a human rights conscience with governments and states. The need for such a conscience emanates from the persistence of human rights violations around the world demonstrating the need to focus more on preventative action. The book would appeal to the student or academic working in a general human rights field, the book provide a unique perspective on human rights.


Noel Mc Guirk, PhD Candidate, School of Law, UU Magee.



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