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Do international human rights treaties improve respect for human rights?

In: Conferences on New Political Economy


  • Eric Neumayer


After the non-binding Universal Declaration of Human Rights, many global and regional human rights treaties have been concluded. Critics argue that these are unlikely to have made any actual difference in reality. Others contend that international regimes can improve respect for human rights in state parties, particularly in more democratic countries or countries with a strong civil society devoted to human rights and with transnational links. Our findings suggest that rarely does treaty ratification have unconditional effects on human rights. Instead, improvement in human rights is typically more likely the more democratic the country or the more international non-governmental organizations its citizens participate in. Conversely, in very autocratic regimes with weak civil society, ratification can be expected to have no effect and is sometimes even associated with more rights violation.
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  • Eric Neumayer, 2006. "Do international human rights treaties improve respect for human rights?," Conferences on New Political Economy,in: Max Albert & Stefan Voigt & Dieter Schmidtchen (ed.), Conferences on New Political Economy, edition 1, volume 23, pages 69-104(36 Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:connpe:doi:10.1628/186183406786118516 Note: This chapter is online at

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David L. Cingranelli & David L. Richards, 1999. "Respect for Human Rights after the End of the Cold War," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 36(5), pages 511-534, September.
    2. Eric Neumayer, 2001. "How Regime Theory and the Economic Theory of International Environmental Cooperation Can Learn from Each Other," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 122-147, February.
    3. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-1426, November.
    4. Moravcsik, Andrew, 2000. "The Origins of Human Rights Regimes: Democratic Delegation in Postwar Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 217-252, March.
    5. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
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