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The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in the Prevention of Mass Atrocities - The Case of the Defensoría del Pueblo in Colombia

Bossé, Christiane LU (2012) JAMM04 20121
Department of Law
Abstract
This thesis is an interdisciplinary study on the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the implementation of the primary responsibility of States to prevent mass atrocities (MA) under pillar one of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). It focuses on current international law (IL) to delimit the scope of the prevention obligations of States and assesses the relevant preventive measures to States’ primary obligations under R2P. It then analyzes the role that NHRIs can play in their practical implementation. This thesis assesses the means and tools of the Colombian NHRI, the Defensoría del Pueblo (DP), in the prevention of MAs. In light of these findings, this dissertation outlines the prospects and challenges facing NHRIs in... (More)
This thesis is an interdisciplinary study on the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the implementation of the primary responsibility of States to prevent mass atrocities (MA) under pillar one of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). It focuses on current international law (IL) to delimit the scope of the prevention obligations of States and assesses the relevant preventive measures to States’ primary obligations under R2P. It then analyzes the role that NHRIs can play in their practical implementation. This thesis assesses the means and tools of the Colombian NHRI, the Defensoría del Pueblo (DP), in the prevention of MAs. In light of these findings, this dissertation outlines the prospects and challenges facing NHRIs in relation to the prevention of MAs.

De lege lata that current IL only requires States to prevent genocide and war crimes. The author argues de lege ferenda that to the extent that crimes against humanity rise to the level of jus cogens and thus carry erga omnes obligations, States could have a positive obligation to act to prevent their commission. As to the preventive tools, structural and direct preventive measures are relevant to the implementation of State’s primary responsibility to prevent MAs. Even if NHRIs do not directly implement the obligations of States, they play an important practical role in monitoring the government’s implementation of IL, including its MA prevention obligations. NHRIs can support the operalization of preventive measures through their functions to promote a legal framework, to contribute to the implementation of the legal framework and through their control mechanisms. In the case of Colombia, the DP uses its mandate to promote and protect human rights to prevent the structural preconditions of MAs. The DP also prevents MAs more directly by flagging imminent risks and making recommendations to the authorities capable of taking the required action. (Less)
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@misc{4001682,
  abstract     = {This thesis is an interdisciplinary study on the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the implementation of the primary responsibility of States to prevent mass atrocities (MA) under pillar one of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). It focuses on current international law (IL) to delimit the scope of the prevention obligations of States and assesses the relevant preventive measures to States’ primary obligations under R2P. It then analyzes the role that NHRIs can play in their practical implementation. This thesis assesses the means and tools of the Colombian NHRI, the Defensoría del Pueblo (DP), in the prevention of MAs. In light of these findings, this dissertation outlines the prospects and challenges facing NHRIs in relation to the prevention of MAs. 

De lege lata that current IL only requires States to prevent genocide and war crimes. The author argues de lege ferenda that to the extent that crimes against humanity rise to the level of jus cogens and thus carry erga omnes obligations, States could have a positive obligation to act to prevent their commission. As to the preventive tools, structural and direct preventive measures are relevant to the implementation of State’s primary responsibility to prevent MAs. Even if NHRIs do not directly implement the obligations of States, they play an important practical role in monitoring the government’s implementation of IL, including its MA prevention obligations. NHRIs can support the operalization of preventive measures through their functions to promote a legal framework, to contribute to the implementation of the legal framework and through their control mechanisms. In the case of Colombia, the DP uses its mandate to promote and protect human rights to prevent the structural preconditions of MAs. The DP also prevents MAs more directly by flagging imminent risks and making recommendations to the authorities capable of taking the required action.},
  author       = {Bossé, Christiane},
  keyword      = {Responsibility to Protect,National Human Rights Institutions,Colombia,Defensoría del Pueblo,international law,international humanitarian law,international criminal law,international human rights law,genocide,mass atrocities,war crimes,crimes against humanity,prevention,early-warning,interdisciplinary.},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in the Prevention of Mass Atrocities - The Case of the Defensoría del Pueblo in Colombia},
  year         = {2012},
}