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Title: How ‘universal’ is the United Nations’ universal periodic review process? An examination from a cultural relativist perspective
Authors: Patel, Gayatri
Supervisors: Hodson, Loveday
Cumper, Peter
Award date: 4-May-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis explores the United Nations’ human rights monitoring mechanism, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The aim of the UPR process is to peer review states’ human rights records through an interactive dialogue session. One of the core elements of the review process is its claim of universality, which is based on two grounds: first, the universal applicability of the process, and second, the normative claim of universalism that is embedded in the operation of the process. Focusing on the second claim of universalism, I challenge the normative claim of universality of the process using the theories of cultural relativism. I ask whether, and to what extent, member states adopt positions that affiliate with the cultural relativist perspective during the interactive dialogue stage in the UPR process. Guided by the theoretical framework of this investigation, I selected three women’s rights categories as the focus of this investigation: women’s rights to health, women’s rights under private and family law and violence against women. The findings of this investigation reveal that there was evidence of states introducing arguments from a form of cultural relativism to challenge universality of international women’s rights. The foundations of this investigation are laid down in the first three chapters of this thesis, which broadly provide details of the UPR process, define the theoretical framework and justify the research methods adopted for this study. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of this thesis present, analyse and discuss the findings of this research project. Drawing upon the findings, this thesis provides two main conclusions. First, that the extent to which the universality of human rights is promoted is contingent on the states participating in the review and the human rights issue being discussed. Second, an unchecked challenge of universalism expressed by some states from a form of cultural relativism threatens not only the creditability of the UPR process, but could potentially question the very infrastructure of international human rights norms.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, School of Law

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