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Type: Theses
Title: African states and the universal periodic review mechanism: a study of effectiveness and the potential for acculturation
Author: Damian, Etone
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: Adelaide Law School
Abstract: This thesis examines African states’ engagement with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, at the completion of the first two cycles in 2016. Drawing from a number of inter-disciplinary sources, this thesis seeks to introduce an original conceptual and theoretical framework to evaluate state engagement with the UPR mechanism. This research project undertakes case studies on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa which address four core issues. First, a five-step approach to measuring the ‘effectiveness’ of state engagement is developed. Second, the potential for the UPR to influence human rights changes through the process of acculturation is examined. Third, the impact of regionalism, cultural relativism and ritualism on the UPR engagement of African states is assessed. Fourth, the role of NGOs/Civil Society Organisations in enhancing the UPR engagement of African States is analysed. The central argument of this thesis is that a compliance-centred theory that relies exclusively on confrontational approaches to human rights implementation is inherently limited. This thesis argues that approaches to human rights implementation which neglect the potential value of cooperative mechanisms such as the UPR, are necessarily incomplete and may be blind to very important human rights mechanisms that emphasise cooperation. I substantiate this conclusion by reference to my major arguments. First, the UPR, which is based on cooperation, can help cause human rights changes within African states in subtle but significant ways, determined in this thesis by the percentage of recommendations that are implemented. Second, African states engage more effectively with the UPR than with other human rights monitoring mechanisms. I argue that the theory of acculturation provides an appropriate theoretical framework to understand the potential impact of state engagement with the UPR mechanism as it does not incorporate any element of coercion. I highlight how the inclusive and cooperative framework of the UPR provides important and effective conditions for acculturation. Findings both within and outside the formal timeframe of the reviews underscore the potential for the UPR to influence human rights changes within states over time. However, evidence of regionalism, cultural relativism and ritualism are aspects which have negatively impacted states’ engagement with the UPR in some instances. Nevertheless, I argue that regionalism can play a positive role, that cognitive reframing can help overcome cultural relativism, and that effective NGO engagement can help counter state ritualism in the UPR. Thus, I argue that the UPR mechanism is a valuable approach to monitoring the human rights implementation of African states.
Advisor: Stubbs, Matthew Thomas
Grenfell, Laura Adelaide
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Law School, 2018
Keywords: Universal Periodic Review
human rights monitoring mechanism
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.25909/5b873a9ec13f7
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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