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Dr. Nina Reiners

Nina Reiners is a political scientist, specialized in International Relations and International Law. She completed her doctoral thesis "Transnational Lawmaking Coalitions for Human Rights" at the University of Potsdam in 2017 ("summa cum laude"). During her doctorate, she worked as a research fellow at the Chair of International Politics, was a visiting scholar at the University of San Diego and had several research stays with the United Nations in Geneva. Her postdoctoral research project is funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and applies a historical-institutionalist perspective to the development of the human rights treaty system to identify conditions for change. Nina studied Political Science, English Literature, and Public Law in Giessen and Madrid.




From International to Transnational Human Rights Lawmaking? The Development of the UN Human Rights Treaty Body System


This postdoctoral project focuses on the United Nations (UN) human rights treaty bodies and is interested in whether their interpretations of human rights norms changed from international towards more transnational forms of lawmaking. Lawmaking is understood as a complex process of decision-making which may be accessed by other actors than those formally acknowledged as lawmakers.

The project starts from the observation that civil society actors and treaty body members form coalitions for international human rights lawmaking. These transnational lawmaking coalitions were not intended by states when the latter delegated the monitoring and interpretation of human rights law to expert committees. Accordingly, states parties have recently called for reforms of the working methods in the treaty bodies. This observation raises broader questions on the nature and possible change of global governance. Is lawmaking in international organizations, a process traditionally protected by state sovereignty, opening up towards transnational actors? Does that mean that international human rights law developed into transnational law, and under which conditions and guided by which motifs do independent experts and civil society actors join forces to set legal standards? And how do these institutions react when they are confronted with critique of their procedures?  

The project aims at identifying critical junctures in the development of the human rights treaty body system to be able to trace a transnational turn in its lawmaking processes. For this aim, the project applies a historical-institutionalist framework to explain the emergence and modes of operations of transnational lawmaking coalitions over time and across different human rights norms.

 Project term: October 2017 – September 2018

This project is generously funded by a research stipend of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.