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This chapter empirically examines the conditions under which the executive has the capacity to respond to adverse judgments with human rights policy change. I argue that the executive has greater capacity to adopt, administer, monitor, and enforce human rights policy when policy change is more feasible. Specifically, civil and political rights improvements are more directly within the executive's control than are physical integrity rights improvements. I show that civil and political rights judgments are more strongly associated with human rights gains than physical integrity rights judgments in Europe and the Americas. Beyond the feasibility of policy change, I also argue that the executive has greater capacity to respond to adverse judgments with policy change when the state has access to outside resources. I show that adverse judgments are positively related to respect for rights as the state's creditworthiness (institutional investor credit rating) increases.
In Chapter 6, I argue that regional human rights courts are more likely to deter future human rights abuses when the executive is willing to adopt, administer, monitor, and enforce human rights policy as a result of elite pressure. I argue that there are two types of elites important for generating executive willingness: economic elites and political elites. With respect to economic elites, I show that the executive is more willing to adopt, administer, monitor, and enforce human rights policy following an adverse judgment when the state is vulnerable to a loss of economic benefits, like foreign direct investment. With respect to political elites, I argue that the executive is more likely to adopt comprehensive human rights policy in expectation of national judicial or legislative implementation. I find evidence that national judicial implementation and subsequently executive human rights policy change, is more likely when the national judiciary is powerful. I argue that national legislative implementation of adverse regional court judgments is more likely as the size of the legislative opposition grows. I find limited support for the role of the size of the legislative opposition, and I suggest this may be due to key institutional design features of the legislature.
In Chapter 3, I examine patterns of general deterrence in the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights. I begin with a discussion of the practices and procedures of the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights. Next, I develop a research design to assess general deterrence. I begin by discussing the outcome of interest - regional court effectiveness. In this discussion, I distinguish conceptually and empirically between compliance and effectiveness. To empirically analyze general regional court deterrence, I first examine the influence of regional court presence on respect for rights and find that the presence of the court in the region is not positively associated with better respect for human rights. Next, I examine the influence of regional court activity by looking at the influence of the number of adverse judgments rendered in the region on respect for rights. I find that European Court activity is not significantly associated with greater respect for rights. However, the activity of the Inter-American Court is significantly associated with greater respect for rights. I conclude with a discussion of these divergent findings.
Chapter 2 develops my theory of regional human rights court deterrence. I begin by defining and explaining regional human rights court deterrence, focusing on two types of deterrence: general and specific. I then discuss two mechanisms of deterrence: prosecutorial and social. The chapter then proceeds by examining the role of the executive in regional court deterrence, specifically the role of the executive in the adoption, administration, monitoring, and enforcement of human rights policy. I argue that human rights policy change is costly for the executive, and as a result, the executive must have the capacity and willingness and respond to adverse regional court judgments with human rights policy change. With respect to capacity, I argue that the executive is more likely to undertake feasible human rights policy changes in response to adverse regional court judgments. I also argue that the executive is more likely to respond to adverse judgments with human rights policy change when the executive has access to outside resources or when the state is fiscally flexible. With respect to willingness, I argue that the executive is more likely to undertake human rights policy change when the executive faces pressure from the mass public, economic elites, or political elites.
Beginning with two examples from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Chapter 1 introduces the motivating puzzle: Why do regional human rights courts sometimes deter future human rights abuses and other times do not? I posit that regional human rights court deterrence is conditional on domestic political factors. I argue that deterrence is more likely when the chief executive has the capacity and willingness to respond to adverse regional court judgments. This chapter then examines three key institutional design features that make regional human rights courts uniquely suited to influence human rights practices, including exclusive membership, mechanism of influence (judgments rather than recommendations), and institutional independence. I then provide a descriptive comparison of the two regional human rights courts examined in the book: the European and Inter-American Courts of Human Rights and argue that a comparative approach is beneficial for advancing our understanding of regional court deterrence. This chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the organization of the book.
Chapter 8 concludes by discussing the book's broader implications. I begin by providing a brief summary of my main argument and findings. I then compare the findings across Europe and the Americas and provide possible explanations for the divergent effects. I then turn to the role of regional human rights courts in the international human rights regime. In doing so, I consider the implications of the book's findings for designing effective international human rights institutions as well as the design of regional human rights arrangements. I conclude by highlighting several avenues for future research, including examining general deterrence more carefully, the role of strategic regional judicial behavior, the potential for complementarity or competition among institutions in the international human rights regime, and backlash in the international human rights regime.
This chapter empirically examines the role of executive willingness as a result of mass public pressure in regional human rights court deterrence. More specifically, I show that the executive is more likely to adopt, administer, monitor, and enforce human rights policy following an adverse judgment when executive job security is low. The presence of an adverse Inter-American Court judgment two years prior to an election year is associated with greater respect for rights than the presence of an adverse Inter-American Court judgment two years prior to a nonelection year. I also show that the presence of adverse European Court judgments two years before an election are associated with greater respect for rights when the executive expects to face a competitive election as opposed to a noncompetitive election. I also argue that the mass public may place pressure on the executive not to undertake human rights policy change following an adverse judgment and when states face threats to social and political stability, and I find that the executive is unlikely to forgo the use of repression following an adverse regional court judgment in the face of large social and political threats in society. I conclude by examining the conflicting types of pressure the mass public can place on the executive.