Why Do Democracies Comply with Human Rights Judgments? A Comparative Analysis of the UK, Ireland and Germany
34 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 26, 2009
Recent literature on compliance has proposed different answers to whether being a democracy matters in fulfilling international commitments. A central focus of these studies was whether democratic institutions enhance or hinder compliance. Scholars have studied both the positive effects of democratic accountability and the negative effects of democratic popular pressure on compliance. Different strands of literature suggest an apparent disagreement about whether democracies are more or less likely to comply with human rights commitments and what reasons motivate their compliance. In this paper, we explore the relationship between democratic institutional qualities and human rights commitments, by employing different methods and new data. We study democracy as a dependent variable rather than an independent variable affecting human rights compliance. We submit that democracies have a number of objective institutional properties, but we also emphasise that institutional properties have different prominence in different contexts. We claim that the ideas that states have of their own democracy play an important role in determining the motivations for compliance with human rights commitments. We focus on reasons for democratic compliance with a particularly institutional form of human rights commitment: human rights judgments and rely on rich qualitative data based on elite interviews carried out in Germany, the UK and Ireland.
Keywords: democracy, compliance, human rights judgments, democratic identity
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