The book tackles the sensitive question of the legitimacy of States' resort to governmental secrecy under international human rights law, offering a comprehensive analysis of the practice of both States and international organizations.
After retracing common patters in the way in which State secrecy is defined, used and regulated at the domestic and international levels, the Author engages with an evaluation of human rights treaty monitoring bodies' prominent case law. The Author does so by 'testing' different uses and applications of State secrecy claims against the protection that international treaties ensure to distinct human rights: the right of access to State-held information, the right to a fair trial, the right to an effective remedy and the 'emerging' right to know the truth about serious human rights violations. Subsequently, the Author deals with the question whether an international customary norm prohibiting the unduly resort to secrecy to conceal serious human rights violations has come to existence. Attention is then paid to the growing relevance that secrecy has acquired in the practice of international organizations, either as classification of documents generated with the organization itself or as use by the organization of State-classified information. The Author identifies some complexities, shortcomings and legal lacuna that can arise from the interplay among apparently colliding international commitments, which arguably trap States between disclosure and non-disclosure obligations. Some suggestions on how to overcome these problems are ultimately proposed.