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Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Sign the Convention Against Torture? Signaling, Domestic Politics and Non-Compliance

51 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2011  

James R. Hollyer

Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota

B. Peter Rosendorff

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 1, 2011

Abstract

Traditional international relations theory holds that states will join only those international institutions with which they generally intend to comply. Here we show when this claim might not hold. We construct a model of an authoritarian government’s decision to sign the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT). Authoritarian governments use the signing of this treaty – followed by the willful violation of its provisions – as a costly signal to domestic opposition groups of their willingness to employ repressive tactics to remain in power. In equilibrium, authoritarian governments that torture heavily are more likely to sign the treaty than those that torture less. We further predict that signatory regimes survive longer in office than non-signatories, and enjoy less domestic opposition – and we provide empirical support for these predictions.

Keywords: Compliance, Domestic Politics, Torture, CAT, Convention Against Torture

Suggested Citation

Hollyer, James R. and Rosendorff, B. Peter, Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Sign the Convention Against Torture? Signaling, Domestic Politics and Non-Compliance (June 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1876843 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1876843

James R. Hollyer

Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota ( email )

1414 Social Sciences
267 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jameshollyer.com

Bryan Peter Rosendorff (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4th St.
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

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