Catalysts for Change

How the UN's Independent Experts Promote Human Rights

Catalysts for Change examines the strengths and weaknesses of one of the United Nations’ most important human rights mechanisms—the collection of independent experts known as special procedures—as they negotiate the rocky terrain where rights meet reality. These independent experts serve as the eyes and ears of the UN human rights system. Despite their prolific work as experts and advocates, however, there has been no empirical study of their impact at the national level—until now. This book provides concrete evidence of why the system works and ways it can be improved.

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UN Human Rights Council: An Effective Mechanism for Protecting Human Rights

Praise for the book:

Ted Piccone has made an important contribution to our understanding of how the United Nations’ human rights fact-finding bodies work and how important they are to the global effort to prevent atrocities and systematic human rights abuses.—President Jimmy Carter

The United Nations, and its independent human rights experts, have an important role to play in concluding conflicts and protecting human rights. This book greatly expands our understanding of how these mechanisms work. Piccone’s critical insights can help the UN improve its promotion of human rights.—Cherif Bassiouni, Distinguished Research Professor of Law Emeritus, DePaul University College of Law

Ted Piccone makes an important contribution to assessing the impact of the UN’s independent experts because he asks whether they make a difference on the ground, where the battles for human rights are ultimately won or lost. This book is an essential tool in the task of perfecting the UN’s mechanisms to promote human rights for all.—Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture

Piccone is a coauthor of Shifting the Balance: Obama and the Americas and The Obama Administration and the Americas: Agenda for Change, both published by Brookings.