Accountability of international organisations for human rights violations
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 31 January 2014 (9th Sitting) (see Doc. 13370, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights, rapporteur: Mr José María Beneyto). Text
adopted by the Assembly on 31 January 2014 (9th Sitting).See
also Recommendation 2037
1. The Parliamentary Assembly recognises
that international organisations are subject to human rights obligations
under international law and highlights the importance of ensuring
that they refrain from violating the human rights of individuals
and of the need to hold them accountable for any such violations.
Human rights standards must be ensured in activities undertaken
by international organisations, as recalled by Assembly Resolution 1675 (2009)
the state of human rights in Europe: the need to eradicate impunity,
including human rights abuses by international non-State actors.
The Assembly also recalls, in this context, its Resolution 1597 (2008)
United Nations Security Council and European Union blacklists, concerning
the human rights consequences of the United Nations Security Council
and European Union targeted terrorism sanctions procedures.
3. The Assembly also notes the danger that States may be shielded
from the duty to comply with their own human rights obligations,
including under the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No.
5), when they take actions as part of, or under the direction of,
an international organisation.
4. The Assembly welcomes recent judgments of the European Court
of Human Rights, including the judgment in Nada
v. Switzerland, that have held States accountable for
measures taken in pursuance of decisions taken by international
organisations. It also welcomes the work of the International Law
Association and International Law Commission in formulating legal
rules and standards of accountability in this area, creating the
foundation for further specific action by States and international
5. The Assembly commends the creation of a number of ad hoc human
rights mechanisms to monitor the compliance of international organisations
with their human rights obligations and to allow individuals to
seek redress for human rights violations, including the World Bank
Inspection Panel, the use of human rights advisory panels to monitor
the activities of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission
in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in
Kosovo (EULEX), and the appointment of an ombudsperson to oversee
the United Nations Security Council’s anti-terrorism sanctions.
However, it also recognises that these mechanisms are not always
available or sufficiently effective, and that concerns exist regarding
the implementation of their findings.
6. The Assembly views with concern the absolute legal immunity
that international organisations and ad hoc bodies, such as the
“troika”, consisting of the European Commission, the European Central
Bank and the International Monetary Fund, are often entitled to
under international or national laws, as the existence of “non-functional”
immunity interferes with the duty of States and organisations to
scrutinise alleged human rights violations.
The Assembly therefore invites all Council of Europe member
States, and international organisations of which they are a part,
7.1 ensure that international
organisations are subject, as appropriate, to binding mechanisms
to monitor their compliance with human rights norms and, where such
internal accountability mechanisms exist, to ensure that their decisions
7.2 encourage international organisations, where possible,
to become parties to human rights treaties;
7.3 formulate clear guidelines regarding the waiver of immunity
for international organisations or otherwise limiting the breadth
of the immunity they enjoy before national courts, in order to ensure
that the necessary functional immunity does not shield them from
scrutiny regarding, in particular, their adherence to standards
concerning non-derogable human rights;
7.4 ensure that member States remain accountable for breaches
of international human rights norms by international organisations
when the latter cannot be held directly accountable, including by
holding States responsible for their role in the international organisation’s
decision-making procedures and by assisting them in implementing
their decisions and policies.