Treaties and Human Rights: The Role of Long-Term Trends

30 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2016 Last revised: 16 Jan 2019

See all articles by Adam S. Chilton

Adam S. Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: August 12, 2018

Abstract

A number of researchers have argued that positive correlations between human rights treaty ratifications and improvements in human rights outcomes provide evidence that ratification causes countries to be less repressive. However, this literature has overlooked the possibility that human rights improvements that took place after treaty ratifications may have been caused by historical factors that long predate treaty ratifications. As Acemoglu et al. (2008) demonstrated for the related controversy over the relationship between democracy and national income, panel regressions that properly account for the influence of long-term trends may eliminate spurious correlations between variables of interest. In this spirit, we reexamine the evidence that treaty ratifications and human rights improvement positively correlate. In the evidence we present, the positive correlations between treaties and human rights largely disappear when accounting for trends in the data.

Keywords: Human Rights, International Law, Treaties, Women’s Rights, Torture

Suggested Citation

Chilton, Adam S. and Posner, Eric A., Treaties and Human Rights: The Role of Long-Term Trends (August 12, 2018). Law and Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming; University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 770. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2815272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2815272

Adam S. Chilton (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/

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