Proportionality as procedure: Strengthening the legitimate authority of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Global Constitutionalism 10 (3):524-546 (2021)
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Abstract

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has a new mechanism to receive individual complaints and issue views, which makes the question of how the Committee should interpret the broad articles of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights more pressing than ever. Most commentators on the legitimacy of the CESCR’s interpretation have argued that interpreters should make better use of Articles 31–33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) in order to improve the legitimacy of their findings. In this article, we argue conversely that the individual communication mechanism should be evaluated and reformed in terms of legitimate authority. In the context of the Committee’s process of interpretation, we contend that proportionality is better suited than the various interpretive options of the VCLT to offer a consistent procedure that is able to generate legitimacy by attenuating the tension between personal and collective autonomy.

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Antoinette Scherz
University of Oslo

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