This chapter picks up on a point introduced in Chapter 7, that the operational activities of international organizations (IOs) can contribute to the hardening of soft law, analogous to the manner in which customary law hardens through state practice. It begins by examining the crystallization of soft law: first, by defining the concept soft law and then sketching how it can harden through IO operational activities. It then reviews three areas of IO practice that illustrate the trend: the impact of election monitoring and electoral assistance on the right to political participation; how the conflict prevention activities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation's (OSCE) High Commissioner for National Minorities have helped to crystallize minority rights; and the effect of humanitarian action and human rights advocacy on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The third part of the chapter analyzes the law-hardening process that occurred in each of the three areas of practice. The goal is to make a plausible case that the law can harden in this way. The fourth part highlights two theoretical implications of the process: first, that it indicates a more fluid and less state-centric form of lawmaking, in which international organizations play an autonomous role; and second, that argumentation between IO officials, governments, and nonstate actors is central to that process.
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