Treaties, Constitutions, Courts, and Human Rights
Sandholtz, Wayne (2012). "Treaties, Constitutions, Courts, and Human Rights." Journal of Human Rights 11(1): 17-32.
30 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2011 Last revised: 15 May 2018
Date Written: September 21, 2011
The effects of treaties on human rights performance may depend in part on how domestic legal systems articulate with international law. The idea motivating this study is that constitutional law can make a difference not necessarily by including rights but by acknowledging and connecting to treaty law. This study is a first attempt to explore the interrelated effects of treaties, constitutions, and courts on human rights performance. The key proposition is that human rights treaties may have a greater influence on rights in countries whose constitutions incorporate treaty law and whose courts are independent of the political branches of government. The analysis tests that proposition using data from about 150 countries across 20 or more years. The results offer evidence that treaties, constitutions, and courts do combine, at times, to improve human rights performance, with judicial independence playing the key role.
Keywords: human rights, treaties, constitutions, judicial independence
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