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Portrait of Jessica Almqvist. Photo.

Jessica Almqvist


Portrait of Jessica Almqvist. Photo.

Reclaiming Political Rights During a Rule of Law Crisis : The Role of the UN Human Rights Committee


  • Jessica Almqvist

Summary, in English

How should democratic states approach and respond to secessionist movements using tactics contrary to the constitution to achieve their goals? What is the role of international human rights mechanisms in these processes? This article sheds light on these questions by examining how the UN Human Rights Committee approached and assessed two complaints that came before it in the wake of the Catalan Declaration of Independence in 2017. The aim is to discuss the Committee’s examination of the merits in the two cases and the procedural hurdles faced. Specifically, it will analyse the effects of examining the merits in hindsight and the extent to which this perspective may have influenced its views. It will further reflect on the potential costs of acting with procedural flexibility towards the two complaints which, while driven by a sense of urgency, did not meet the threshold for irreparable harm. It is concluded that, while a protective stance towards petitioners is the bedrock of its mandate related to individual complaints, acting with such degree of flexibility risks undermining its procedural effectiveness and the integrity of its individual complaint procedure. It also made it come too close to act as a fourth instance in relation to facts that had already been examined by domestic courts by the time of its assessment. At the same time, it did not challenge Spain’s rule of law approach as such.


  • LU Profile Area: Human rights
  • Department of Law

Publishing year





Hague Journal on the Rule of Law

Document type

Journal article




  • Law


  • Catalonia
  • Human rights
  • International covenant on civil and political rights
  • Secessionism
  • United Nations
  • Mänskliga rättigheter




  • ISSN: 1876-4045