Chicago Journal of International Law


This Article proceeds in four parts, including this introduction. Section II defines what we mean by soft law and lays out a theory explaining why states would choose to delegate to international tribunals the ability to make soft law. Section III explores the theory in the context of the UN Human Rights Committee. The Committee, whose jurisdiction is controlled by an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR"), lacks the power to issue binding rulings interpreting states' obligations under the ICCPR. Its rulings interpreting the binding obligations contained in the ICCPR are thus a form of soft law that influences not only states that have signed the Optional Protocol, but all states subject to the ICCPR. Section IV concludes.