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Ratification as accommodation? Domestic dissent and human rights treaties
AuthorRyckman, Kirssa Cline
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherSAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
Citation"Ratification as accommodation? Domestic dissent and human rights treaties." Journal of Peace Research. July 2016 vol. 53 no. 4 582-596
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Rights© The Author(s) 2016 Reprints and permission: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
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AbstractRepression is the expected response to anti-government protest; however, leaders can also accommodate demonstrators. Committing to human rights treaties is considered in this environment, where treaty commitments are conceptualized as a policy concession that leaders can grant dissenters. Past research has shown that top-down domestic pressures, such as new democratic regimes, can influence treaty commitments. This article extends this line of research by considering the influence of bottom-up domestic pressure, arguing that nonviolent, pro-democracy movements can pressure leaders into concessions, as these movements are risky to repress but threatening to ignore. Leaders are expected to seek ‘cheap’ accommodations, and commitments to human rights treaties provide a relatively low-cost concession that also addresses demonstrators’ pro-democracy demands. Using commitments to the nine core UN human rights treaties, results are generally supportive. Governments experiencing a nonviolent, pro-democracy movement are consistently likely to sign human rights treaties. Ratification is also likely but in more limited contexts, and is more closely related to movement success. This suggests that bottom-up pressures can influence commitment to human rights treaties, but there may be little substance behind those concessions. The status quo and cost-averse preferences of leaders lead them to grant accommodations that result in minimal change and cost.
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VersionFinal accepted manuscript