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States commit via succession when new states have emerged and the prior state had already ratified to the treaty. Though often categorized into the same commitment as ratification, succession is a deliberate recommitment to human rights standards. Succession is a unique and rare form of treaty commitment only available to new states that have separated from other states. Succession states experience unique regime change often characterized by democratization. I argue that new states use succession as a means to seek legitimacy from the United Nations and other states. The increased attention paid to succession states also means accountability for compliance. As a result, states committing via succession have the motivation and accountability contributing to compliance. I examine the historic case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and track human rights patterns following succession in the succession states versus ratification states. I find higher rates of human rights changes following succession, which aligns with these states experiencing regime transition and democratization. The finding supports my call to separate out commitment types from ratification.
In this chapter, I begin by discussing the legal definitional differences between treaty accession and ratification. Accession differs from ratification in that states commit via accession after the treaty has already been negotiated and signed by other states. Acceding states, in general, are states that come to the treaty later and were not involved in the lengthy negotiations to craft the laws. I argue that this difference in involvement is an important distinction that has been overlooked. I argue that participating in treaty negotiation socializes states towards optimal human rights standards. Building on my argument of the importance of involvement and lack of involvement in negotiations, I focus on this history of treaty negotiations of the ICCPR treaty. I highlight how states involved in negotiations shaped the breadth and strength of the law and those not involved lacked that important contribution to the law. Then, I quantitatively test accession versus ratification for effects on human rights behavior after committing to the ICCPR and CEDAW treaties. I find that states that acceded had worse rights practices than ratifying states.
In this chapter, I review the international relation and international law literature on treaty commitment and treaty compliance highlighting the prominent arguments and findings. In doing so, I unpack the implications of the dominant and central focus on ratification. In this critical review, I recognize the many contributions of existing research and focus on how prominent studies conceptualized and operationalized "commitment" and "ratification." I argue that expanding these concepts will widen and deepen our understanding of the role international human rights plays.
In this chapter, I begin by covering the legal definitional differences between treaty signature and treaty ratification. I discuss the two-step legal nature of signing and ratifying international treaty law and present an argument of when and why signature is important. I posit that states confronting domestic legislative barriers to ratification place an importance on the act of signature, as it is easier for these states to sign than it is to ratify. I examine the case of the United States and the historic hurdles confronted ratifying human rights law. Then, I statistically test the effect of signing human rights treaties on human rights behavior on the ICCPR and CEDAW treaties. I find that for states confronting domestic legislative barriers to ratification, signature is a significant indicator of improved human rights. This finding does not hold for states without such barriers.
In the conclusion, I revisit the findings from the earlier chapters and begin to discuss how the findings apply to international law and outside of the human rights area. I address how the four different commitment types fare in the future of international law.
In this chapter, I introduce the central claim of the manuscript – that the different types of treaty commitment need to be analyzed and considered as distinct when generating expectations of human rights behavior. The legal paths that states take concerning commitment to human rights treaties are consequential for how they engage with the law and human rights behavior. The chapter devotes attention to fine descriptive data analytics demonstrating a variety of differences across the four commitment actions.
In this chapter, I present an introduction to modern human rights treaty law discussing the increased creation and commitment to treaties over time. I introduce the four types of commitment focused on in this book – signature, ratification, accession, and succession. I introduce the argument of examining each commitment type separately from ratification and argue that with each commitment type comes unique circumstances and contexts that prove important in understanding how the commitment type can influence changes in human rights behavior. I graphically depict the different commitment types to demonstrate that the majority of treaty commitment does not, in fact come from ratification, despite the focus of scholars, policy makers, and activists on ratification.
International treaties are the primary means for codifying global human rights standards. However, nation-states are able to make their own choices in how to legally commit to human rights treaties. A state commits to a treaty through four commitment acts: signature, ratification, accession, and succession. These acts signify diverging legal paths with distinct contexts and mechanisms for rights change reflecting legalization, negotiation, sovereignty, and domestic constraints. How a state moves through these actions determines how, when, and to what extent it will comply with the human rights treaties it commits to. Using legal, archival, and quantitative analysis this important book shows that disentangling legal paths to commitment reveals distinct and significant compliance outcomes. Legal context matters for human rights and has important implications for the conceptualization of treaty commitment, the consideration of non-binding commitment, and an optimistic outlook for the impact of human rights treaties.
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