A certification system for human rights protection: putting indicators into use
Nunes, Mariana Pereira Fiadeiro Mesquita
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The current human rights system is ineffective and highly politicised. The gap between formal existence of rights and material implementation constrains the capability of rights’ enjoyment. Moreover, the weakening of public authority and the emergent demands for new mechanisms of corporate accountability call for new forms of governance and alternative mechanisms for human rights protection. This thesis defends that human rights protection, notably labour rights, can be enhanced through a voluntary certification system that attaches economic incentives to compliance. A range of public and private mechanisms for advancing human rights is analysed. Such mechanisms have mainly: (a) targeted abuses through systems of economic incentives and sanctions, (b) made possible the comparison among human rights situations, or (c) developed voluntary approaches to compliance. The thesis proposes a certification system for human rights that would add an economic spur for both private and public entities to protect human rights, through the granting of certificates built upon robust indicators (to measure/attest the level of protection), linked to different types of economic benefits. Such system would combine several features found in the studied mechanisms, while simultaneously improving them, thus guaranteeing more legitimacy, accountability, objectivity, transparency and effectiveness. It concludes that private systems do not preclude the maintenance of human rights critical authority. Key words: human rights; economic incentives; certification; labour rights; indicators; capabilities.