Varieties of Unilateral Enforcement of International Human Rights Standards

Posted: 25 Mar 2021

See all articles by Daniela Donno

Daniela Donno

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science

Ashrakat Elshehawy

University of Oxford

Nikolay Marinov

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 22, 2021

Abstract

Though centralized enforcement of global human rights standards is weak, powerful states can act unilaterally to punish rights violations. Focusing on the United States, which is the most frequent `sender' of sanctions for human rights, we theorize how the incentives for sanctions differ across the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as how the legal foundation for sanctions vary across issue area. Employing a new fine-grained dataset of US economic coercion, we examine the conditions under which---and the consistency with which---the United States employs sanctions for human rights. We show that certain human rights issues, characterized by interbranch agreement and domestic policy externalities, give rise to systems of `dedicated' enforcement where violations are systematically monitored and punishment is more likely. In other more politically-contentious areas, US human rights enforcement is more ad hoc, but nevertheless responds at the margins to international legal commitments: when countries ratify certain certain global human rights treaties, they are more likely to be targeted by US sanctions in the event of rights violations.

Keywords: human rights, American foreign policy, ICCPR, treaties, sanctions

Suggested Citation

Donno, Daniela and Elshehawy, Ashrakat and Marinov, Nikolay, Varieties of Unilateral Enforcement of International Human Rights Standards (February 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3790840

Daniela Donno

University of Pittsburgh - Department of Political Science ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Ashrakat Elshehawy

University of Oxford ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

Nikolay Marinov (Contact Author)

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nikolaymarinov.com

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
51
PlumX Metrics