Domestic Judicial Institutions and Human Rights Treaty Violation
49 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2007
Date Written: August 30, 2007
Democratic and autocratic states routinely violate their international agreements protecting human rights. Scholars typically study this phenomenon by focusing on ratification or compliance behavior separately. In our view, these behaviors are inherently linked, and our analysis should address the link explicitly. We consider how domestic judiciaries influence the joint choice to ratify and comply with international human rights regimes. Using data on the ratification status of states under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and states' torture practices, we find that the joint probability of being ratified under the CAT and violating its terms decreases in the effectiveness of a state's judiciary; and that the joint probability of not being ratified and engaging in behavior proscribed by the CAT increases in the effectiveness of a state's judiciary. The paper suggests that while effective judiciaries offer the promise of an enhanced international human rights law, it is in part a false one. Where judiciaries constrain, states are more likely to avoid these regimes and violate human rights anyway. Where judiciaries do not constrain, states are likely to join and ignore their obligations.
Keywords: human rights, ratification, compliance
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