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International rules, national implementation : how domestic politics condition the effects of international legal commitments


How and when do commitments to international institutions affect the behavior of national governments? This dissertation provides substantive and methodological advances in answering this key question in international relations research. Chapter 1 addresses the selection effect problem in this literature, which threatens inferences we can make about the effects of treaty commitments. I argue that in order to address this problem, we first need to estimate the treaty commitment preferences of states. I develop a procedure designed to do so that combines ideal-point estimation and propensity- score matching and apply this procedure to test the effects of three human rights agreements. Chapter 2 analyzes the role of domestic courts in enforcing international commitments. I develop a theory that predicts when courts can be effective enforcers based on the costs of producing evidence and the legal standards of proof. I test this theory using the procedure developed in Chapter 1. Chapter 3 analyzes the role of domestic legislative veto players in enforcing international commitments. While much of the literature assumes veto players can make commitments more credible in all areas, I argue that in the human rights context their ability to do so depends on the extent to which leaders can effectively violate human rights without legislative approval and in secret. I test this theory using the procedure developed in Chapter 1. Finally, Chapter 4 returns to the estimates of treaty commitment preferences developed in Chapter 1. I analyze the treaty commitment preference space in order to better understand the key predictors of these preferences. I find that economic policy is the clearest and most consistent predictor of treaty commitment preferences, including with respect to non-economic treaties

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