This study examines legal protection of the right to personal integrity, which is the most frequent object of inquiry in the social science literature that examines cross-national patterns of human rights abuse. Previous research examining the relationship between de jure and de facto protection of human rights do not examine variation in substantive legal protection beyond noting the presence/absence of a handful of constitutional protections or whether a government has adopted a particular international agreement. This omission has important implications for research concerning the adoption and implementation of international human rights law. In chapter one of this study I employ data on rights-protecting provisions contained in national constitutions and item-response theory models to estimate the level of de jure legal protection of personal integrity that exists in domestic legal systems. In chapter two I examine the decisions of governments to enter reservations, declarations, and understandings (RUDs) upon ratification of international human rights agreements that protect personal integrity. Using the measure developed in chapter one, I find evidence that the less a government is already subject to legally binding human rights provisions under domestic law, and the greater the power of domestic courts, the more likely that government is to exempt itself from the provisions of a human rights agreement through the use of RUDs. In chapter three I examine the impact of international human rights treaties on government respect for the right to personal integrity. The analysis uses the measure developed in chapter 1 to explicitly account for the domestic legal status of human rights when analyzing the impact of international human rights law on government behavior. The results obtained indicate that the effect of human rights treaties on respect for personal integrity rights is conditioned by existing domestic legal protection, but not in the way anticipated. Specifically, I find that ratification of a treaty is associated with more government respect for the right to personal integrity where domestic courts are powerful and where ex ante domestic legal protection is already high.
|Advisor:||Moore, Will H.|
|Commitee:||Ahlquist, John, Ehrlich, Sean, Golder, Sona N., Siegel, David, Twiss, Sumner B.|
|School:||The Florida State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Law, International Relations, Political science, International law|
|Keywords:||Human rights, International law, Personal integrity rights, Reservations, Treaties|
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