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From contestation to convergence? A constructivist critique of the impact of UN Human Rights Treaty ratification on interpretations of Islam in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries

George, Rachel (2018) From contestation to convergence? A constructivist critique of the impact of UN Human Rights Treaty ratification on interpretations of Islam in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.qj4dcop23xqk

Abstract

This thesis discusses UN human rights treaty ratification in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Ratification of human rights treaties by most GCC countries, often with extensive reservations concerning the compatibility of certain provisions with Islam, has generated international debate about the applicability of international human rights norms in an Islamic context. With poor compliance records, GCC cases are seen to demonstrate that global human rights norms fail to diffuse and take hold in specific local contexts. This thesis disputes this claim by arguing that normative change can be observed in these cases. It offers a constructivist critique of “norm diffusion” literature by focusing on changes in language and ideas, rather than on legal changes and implementation. Using the cases of the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the thesis identifies when and how language and ideas about Islam and human rights have been shaped by UN conceptualizations of rights as a result of GCC engagement with these treaties. Examining both Arabic and English sources and carrying out analysis of the discourses in UN documents, employing legal analysis of recent constitutional documents and laws, and through interview research, the thesis demonstrates how arguments about Islam and human rights in the GCC have been shaped by treaty engagement since the 1990s. By demonstrating ratification’s impact on GCC actors’ use of UN human rights vocabulary and concepts within an Islamic context, the thesis argues that ratification matters more than the conventional literature suggests. It concludes that, even in cases that human rights treaties have failed to result in improved practices, they have contributed to the framing of interpretations of Islam alongside UN human rights concepts, a process that is worthy of greater scholarly attention.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Rachel Ann George
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Dalacoura, Katerina
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3722

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