This article outlines and explores the arguments in favor of and in opposition to the establishment of sub-national human rights institutions (such as state and local human rights commissions, ombudsmen and the like) in nations that already possess national human rights institutions. This analysis will be based on an application of prior research findings in the broader field of administrative decentralisation as tailored to the particularities of human rights implementation. Where relevant, the article also examines the implications of institutional type for decentralisation, as well as the implication of different attributes of the relevant jurisdiction. The article concludes by setting out the circumstances under which the establishment of sub-national human rights institutions will be more or less advantageous.
The Question of Decentralisation
A Case Study of the Seoul Human Rights Ombudsperson
Over the last two decades, municipal human rights institutions have proliferated around the world. One of the newest examples of such initiatives is the Seoul Human Rights Ombudsperson Office, which was established in January 2013 as one of the core institutions of human rights protection in Seoul, Korea. This article will present a case study of the operations of the Seoul Human Rights Ombudsperson Office based on interviews and documentary research. It will focus on the question of how this newly established institution fits into the existing human rights regime, and in particular address three distinct issues, namely the degree to which the Seoul Human Rights Ombudsperson Office reflects local versus national or international influences, the types of institutional relationships it has with other human rights actors, and the degree to which it implements local versus national or international human rights norms.