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The concluding chapter summarizes the key insights vis-à-vis the TLC concept – how TLCs form, who they involve, and all other meaningful empirical points about them to know, for example, what makes them legitimate and effective. It discusses how the book’s findings contribute to wider debates in global governance and highlights the concept’s contribution to different strands of literature in international relations and international law, discusses the concept’s generalizability beyond the human rights regime, and gives incentives for future research.
The introductory chapter presents the argument of the book, that transnational lawmakingcoalitions exist beneath the surface of the UN human rights treaty bodies’ formal actors, rules, and processes. TLCs shed light on the particularities of the treaty interpretation process and provide an analytical lens to understanding the key role expert bodies and issue professionals play in the development of human rights law. The chapter situates the book in the relevant literatures and outlines its research methods and structure.
This chapter presents the book’s core theoretical contribution of the transnational lawmaking coalition (TLC), a concept that brings fresh insight to the IR and IO literatures. Operating outside the IO borders of the treaty body system, TLCs are informal and temporary coalitions of state-empowered expert bodies and issue professionals that, in pressing for clarification of state obligations through the instrument of treaty interpretations, can contribute to the development of international law without direct government involvement. This chapter distinguishes TLCs from other collective transnational actor-types, introduces the main triggers of a TLC’s genesis, explains the logic behind its members’ participation in such a coalition, and articulates how TLCs organize their drafting work and under which conditions they are influential.
Chapter 6 addresses the absence of the state from the procedures described throughout the book with a forward-looking eye on the TLC and the present status of the human rights regime. On the TLC, this chapter advances the argument such coalitions are in no way to be seen as a mode of international lawmaking without governments, as states, in their status as the treaty body system’s ultimate arbiters, have ample opportunities to mold the system to their liking – by way of, for example, elections, ratifications, budget, willingness to participate in the procedures, and compliance with their obligations. Indeed the Treaty Body Reform 2020 initiative reflects their awareness of autonomy of the treaty bodies themselves. With it likely that states cannot enact this reformation while also maintaining presence in the human rights regime, it will be crucial to see how this conflict plays out in the future.
As the very concept of TLCs rests on this notion of their being a lawmaking coalition through treaty interpretations, the General Comments (GC), the chapter introduces the UN human rights treaty bodies and gives data on their decision-making rules, their membership, workload, and on the instrument of interest for this book, the GCs. This chapter explains what GCs are, the degree to which the UN treaty bodies use GCs in different functions, and how state parties and scholars understand – and contest – GCs’ legal substance. Moving beyond notions of formal authority, the chapter argues for GCs’ authoritativeness because they serve as necessary reference points to human rights, especially because a broader community (NGOs, domestic courts, specialized agencies) enacts them in the realms of domestic law, politics, and civil society. Ultimately, what this chapter makes eminently apparent is that general comments’ authoritativeness depends less on state recognition and more on the multitude of actors breathing life into their interpretations.
Chapter 5 delves into three additional cases of treaty interpretation by the human rights treaty bodies. The aim of the chapter is to probe the plausibility of the TLC concept across the human rights regime. I use insights and findings gathered from the drafting process of GC No. 15 to articulate a typology that distinguishes the treaty bodies by their likelihood to need external input when drafting GCs. Drawing on a combination of data – documents and existing scholarship, as well as interviews and personal observations – the case studies ultimately demonstrate the TLC concept to be applicable to drafting processes in other treaty bodies, even where their formation is less likely.
With its November 2002 adoption, General Comment (GC) No. 15 on the Right to Water of the ICESCR provided an authoritative base upon which states could better implement their obligations, and individuals and communities could more effectively advocate for the fulfillment of their right to water – and, in doing so, closed a significant gap in human rights law. This chapter forms the book’s empirical entry point into the TLC in practice by showing one such coalition as this story’s protagonist. More specifically, the chapter draws on novel data sources from interviews, background talks, and archival research to reconstruct GC No. 15’s drafting process – telling the story of how water became a human right – to ultimately unearth the TLC and the various aspects of its lawmaking agency in a specific case. Shown with an insular drafting core that both coalesces around a single CESCR member and comprises a select few non-UN technical and legal experts who become involved with great autonomy, the TLC detailed here contours the theoretical expectations advanced in the preceding chapter.