IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The Origins of Human Rights Regimes: Democratic Delegation in Postwar Europe

Listed author(s):
  • Moravcsik, Andrew
Registered author(s):

    Most formal international human rights regimes establish international committees and courts that hold governments accountable to their own citizens for purely internal activities. Why would governments establish arrangements so invasive of domestic sovereignty? Two views dominate the literature. “Realist” theories assert that the most powerful democracies coerce or entice weaker countries to accept norms; “ideational” theories maintain that transnational processes of diffusion and persuasion socialize less-democratic governments to accept norms. Drawing on theories of rational delegation, I propose and test a third “republican liberal” view: Governments delegate self-interestedly to combat future threats to domestic democratic governance. Thus it is not mature and powerful democracies, but new and less-established democracies that will most strongly favor mandatory and enforceable human rights obligations. I test this proposition in the case of the European Convention on Human Rights—the most successful system of formal international human rights guarantees in the world today. The historical record of its founding—national positions, negotiating tactics, and confidential deliberations—confirms the republican liberal explanation. My claim that governments will sacrifice sovereignty to international regimes in order to dampen domestic political uncertainty and “lock in” more credible policies is then generalized theoretically and applied to other human rights regimes, coordination of conservative reaction, and international trade and monetary policy.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: link to article abstract page
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal International Organization.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 02 (March)
    Pages: 217-252

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:54:y:2000:i:02:p:217-252_44
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Cambridge University Press, UPH, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 8BS UK

    Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:54:y:2000:i:02:p:217-252_44. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Keith Waters)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.