Social Mechanisms to Promote International Human Rights: Complementary or Contradictory?
New York University School of Law
University of Texas School of Law
October 18, 2011
FROM COMMITMENT TO COMPLIANCE: THE PERSISTENT POWER OF HUMAN RIGHTS, Thomas Risse, Stephen C. Ropp, Kathryn Sikkink, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2012
NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-74
U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 203
The study of the international human rights regime has increasingly emphasized how this regime matters rather than if it matters. An especially productive turn focuses on the importance of multiple forms of influence on state behavior. The Power of Human Rights provided a foundation for such studies by bringing attention to the significance of different logics of interaction at different points in the socialization process of states (Risse, Ropp, & Sikkink 1999). That leading work and allied scholarship rely on motivations of human behavior such as shame, social status, and material reward. At a general level, such methodological commitments are widely shared in international relations scholarship.
One important, but correctable, weakness of this approach is the way in which it conceptualizes (or fails to conceptualize) the relationship between the various mechanisms of social influence. According to leading studies, international human rights norms, through various agents and in various ways, often mobilize each mode of influence. An assumption is that these mechanisms are broadly, if not completely, complementary. This assumption of complementarity, we argue, is empirically suspect; and it inhibits refinement of the model along several axes.
The next phase of research on human rights should include two related ambitions. First, it should systematically account for potential negative interactions between mechanisms of influence. Second, it should specifically consider how regime design might accentuate or mitigate such interactions. Are social mechanisms complementary or contradictory? In what ways are they compatible or incompatible? And what difference do these considerations make for modeling the influence of global norms? We provide some initial answers to these questions. We first identify and discuss various interaction effects between social mechanisms – emphasizing several crowding-out and crowding-in effects. We then identify and discuss various sequencing effects. Finally, we offer some reflections on whether and how these developments in the behavioral sciences ought to influence the modeling of human rights change.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Human Rights, International Law, Motivation Crowding Out, Intrinsic Motivation, Incentives, Reciprocity, Social Approval, Social Norms
Date posted: October 19, 2011