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Abstract

To delimit its object of observation, this thesis has relied on the international relations theory of constructivism that depicts the agents, tools, and processes thought to make states behave in compliance with international human rights law. Consequently, human rights backlash has been defined as a state's strong negative reaction against the agents and occasionally tools of human rights norm internalization. This thesis however focuses on the effects of this phenomenon on the law. More precisely, on the new norms that have been enacted as a reaction to the backlash - the post-backlash human rights law. What were the narratives present in the process of creation of these norms? What were the justifications put forward by the opposing states, and how has the international law community reacted? In order to answer these questions, I have selected three post-backlash norms; rules governing reservations and withdrawals from the human rights treaties, the right to foreign funding to civil society as part of the right to freedom of association, and finally, the norm of immunities of senior state officials as envisaged in the Malabo Protocol. I find that the post-backlash human rights law examined in this thesis tend to reinforce or attempt to reinforce the powers of the agents of norm internalization and keep the status quo of the structure. This self-reinforcement or an attempt towards it has been done on a basis of the moral authority provided by the references to the narrative of humanity, while the justifications invoked by the backlashing states have been rarely engaged with. Furthermore, some of the rules governing the norm internalization structure have been woven into the substantive human rights. In these instances, it is through the substantive human rights law that the agents of norm internalization have augmented their legal powers.

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