This paper aims to investigate what human rights indicators are, and what role they play within international organizations. In particular, this paper argues that human rights indicators, far from having similar structures and posing similar problems, are created and live within frameworks, through processes, and for purposes that might significantly diverge from indicator to indicator. The central claim is that the pluralism underlying the world of human rights indicators reflects, among other things, the variable structures, objectives and modes of operation of the international organizations inhabiting that world. This paper thus explores how the massive production and extensive use of human rights indicators in recent years has not only been influenced by, but has also shaped, the missions, internal structures and operational practices of the international organizations that produce and use them.
This paper aims to explore what role comparative law can play in the study of global human rights indicators. Global human rights indicators are created within institutional frameworks, and used for purposes that diverge significantly from one another. Indicators differ in their internal structures, in the networks of the actors making them, and in the uses to which they lend themselves. The potential of comparative law with regard to these indicators goes beyond the mere caution against the risks of misinterpretation of legal cultures confronted with the international human rights discourse. Comparative law lenses help, among other things, to see through the macrocosm of global indicators, highlighting patterns of convergence and divergence that are relevant to global governance and might otherwise go under-appreciated.
The book herein reviewed – ‘The Aims of Tort Law. Chinese and European Perspectives’, edited by Helmut Koziol and published by Jan Sramek Verlag in 2017 – offers something that is much needed: a comparative study of tort law functions that, additionally, focuses on China. On the basis of that study, the paper sketches out some comparative lessons Europeans can learn by looking at Chinese tort law, and in particular at the Chinese approaches to the aims of tort law.
Many legal systems beyond the classical common/civil law mixed world may show themselves as the result of a historical combination of different paradigms, and of ever changing legal blends. Allegedly ‘pure’ (i.e. unmixed) civilian systems are no exception, as the Italian legal experience demonstrates. The Italian legal system stands as an emblematic illustration of how, in a civilian context, original and foreign (both civil law and common law) inspired legal rules, institutions, and attitudes may interact, develop through time, and synthesize themselves in a complex, yet unified legal culture.
As is well-known, from a comparative perspective Italy is commonly conceived as a member of the civilian legal family, and, more in particular, as a mix of XIX-XXth century French and German influences. This is, however, only one side of the picture. Whatever their current respective zones of influences are, the point is that French and German legal models are no more (as they have never been) the only ingredient of the Italian recipe. As a matter of fact, the origin of many components stretches wider both in time and space. In some cases, it stretches back to the fragmented plurality of normative levels which characterized the peninsula’ legal edifice for centuries before political unification. In other cases, the origin of legal rules stretches up to the more recent borrowings from the United States experience: from the plea bargain to the ‘quasi’ adversary criminal trial, from securitization techniques to financial contracts models, from class action devices to the overarching patterns of judicial review.
Hence, far from being a purely civilian amalgam, the Italian legal framework presents itself as the fruit of an endless interaction of local patterns with foreign-inspired paradigms. This is why the third legal family lenses can prove extremely useful in looking at the Italian allegedly ‘pure’ legal experience, and in highlighting the multiple ingredients of its somewhat mixed recipes. More generally, third legal family’s perspective may help put countries belonging to civilian legal family in context, and lead to a better understanding not only of the dynamic relationships between this family and other legal families, but also of the cross-fertilization phenomena which endlessly take place within and beyond family borders.