Back to overview Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
Volume (Issue) 39(2)
Page(s) 140 - 160
Title of proceedings Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
DOI 10.1177/09240519211016947

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The implementation of international human rights law in federal States is an underexplored process. Subnational entities regularly enjoy a degree of sovereignty, which raises questions such as whether they implement obligations of international law and how the federal level may ensure that implementation takes place at the subnational level. This article aims to answer these questions, using the implementation of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Convention) in Switzerland as a case study. To implement the Convention at the cantonal level, federal actors decided to use networks of civil servants in charge of domestic violence issues, who act as governmental human rights focal points (GHRFPs). This article is based on original empirical data, on 25 interviews with State officials who participate in this implementation. The findings show how complex GHRFPs networks work in practice to implement the Convention and highlight the role played by numerous non-legal State actors in this process. As a result, the article argues that international human rights law implementation becomes more diversified both within and across federal States.