Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sandholtz: Treaties, Constitutions, Courts, and Human Rights

Wayne Sandholtz (Univ. of California, Irvine - Political Science) has posted Treaties, Constitutions, Courts, and Human Rights. Here's the abstract:
With the proliferation of human rights treaties after World War II, activists, scholars, and citizens have held the hope that international law could help to protect human rights and reduce abuses. This paper begins with the idea that the effects of treaties on human rights performance may depend in part on how domestic legal systems articulate with international law. Perhaps international human rights treaties have stronger effects on national human rights practices in countries whose constitutions give treaty law domestic legal status. Treaties may also have a greater effect on human rights practices in countries where independent courts can apply human rights rules for the benefit of claimants, even when they assert claims against their own governments. This study is a first attempt to explore the interrelated effects of treaties, constitutions, and courts on human rights performance. The basic proposition is that human rights treaties have a greater influence on rights in countries whose constitutions acknowledge international 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 some evidence that treaties, constitutions, and courts do combine, at times, to improve human rights performance.