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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Domestic Politics, International Inaction: The United States and Human Rights Treaties
by van der Veen, Alicia Marie, M.A., The George Washington University, 2012, 92; 1531192
Abstract (Summary)

Despite being a proponent of human rights on the world stage and having some of the strongest protections of these rights at home, the United States has not ratified three major international human rights treaties: on the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities. What causes this discrepancy? Though they are crafted in the international sphere, treaties are debated in the domestic—in the U.S. Senate—and thus become a political issue. Small but vocal groups feel threatened by a loss of sovereignty and an attack on values, and mobilize to lobby their Senators against these treaties. A larger group who favors ratification for the moral example it sets and the credibility gained on the world stage is not directly affected by the treaties—because these rights are so well enshrined at home—and therefore does not share this same incentive to mobilize. These arguments also tend to fall down political party lines, especially for the treaties on women's and children's rights, which deal with sensitive areas of the family and parenting. Structural impediments also play a part: one powerful Senator can block action for years, and the threshold to pass a convention is very high. These factors, combined with a general U.S. skepticism of the United Nations that is traced back to the organization's founding, and questions on the effectiveness of treaties as tools of change result in U.S. ambivalence on international human rights treaties.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sell, Susan K., Finnemore, Martha
Commitee: Finnemore, Martha
School: The George Washington University
Department: International Affairs
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 51/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: International Relations, International law
Keywords: Human rights, Ratification, Treaties, United Nations (UN), United States
Publication Number: 1531192
ISBN: 978-1-267-82678-7
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