Examining Compliance with Rights Regimes

National Science Foundation Grant, Law and Social Sciences Program – SES-1823804. Awarded Summer 2018.

Co-PI: Courtney Hillebrecht, University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Project Overview:

When countries join international human rights institutions, they agree to international oversight of their human rights practices. This oversight ranges from peer evaluations at the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review to binding legal judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights. As members of these international human rights institutions, states receive many—sometimes hundreds—of recommendations and rulings asking them to change their human rights practices each year. States are, of course, expected to comply with these recommendations and rulings. The existing literature on compliance provides deep insight into how robust domestic institutions facilitate compliance with human rights bodies and instruments, but it fails to explain important variations in compliance, particularly variations in compliance within countries. This project offers a course correction by re-conceptualizing compliance, not as a discrete outcome, but rather as a political process that is shaped by the nature of the rulings and recommendations themselves. To test this claim, the proposed project focuses on compliance with women’s rights recommendations in Europe and aims to answer the questions: how and why do states comply with international human rights recommendations and rulings? The objectives are to generate a theory of compliance processes; create a new dataset on women’s rights recommendations; conduct a battery of econometric analyses on the relationship between the nature of human rights recommendations and compliance processes; and conduct process-tracing and elite interviews to evaluate our assumptions, as well as to provide education and training opportunities for K-graduate students, which will advance both human rights education and research.