Domestic Legislatures and International Law: Explaining State Participation and Compliance with United Nations Human Rights Treaties

Other Titles
This project examines the untapped area of international legal engagement and the dynamic ways that states use treaty actions as a means of communication. This project focuses on two central questions: 1) What explains when and why states engage with treaty law 2) What effect, if any, does engagement have on compliance levels? I argue that involvement of the domestic legislature at the ratification and implementation stages helps explain legal engagement via commitment and post-commitment actions. Timing of legal actions influences observed compliance levels. I use a multi-methods approach to address these questions. First, I collect the legal treaty actions made towards each of the core United Nations human rights treaties. Statistical analyses examine the role commitment actions have in compliance levels with treaty law. I specifically focus on the ICCPR and CEDAW treaties for empirical analysis of compliance, drawing on other human rights treaties for comparative analysis. Drawing from the cases of the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands, I examine the role of domestic legislatures on international legal behavior. In the end the timing and amount of legislative involvement in the treaty process have major consequences for how, when, and how frequently states engage with international law. States confronting legislative barriers to ratification tend to sign treaties earlier than states without barriers. For these states signature, not ratification, becomes the significant and defining point of human rights behavior change.
Journal / Series
Volume & Issue
Date Issued
human rights; International relations; signature; treaty; United Nations; legislatures; international law; Political science
Effective Date
Expiration Date
Union Local
Number of Workers
Committee Chair
Evangelista, Matthew Anthony
Committee Co-Chair
Committee Member
Kreps, Sarah E
Katzenstein, Peter Joachim
Degree Discipline
Degree Name
Ph. D., Government
Degree Level
Doctor of Philosophy
Related Version
Related DOI
Related To
Related Part
Based on Related Item
Has Other Format(s)
Part of Related Item
Related To
Related Publication(s)
Link(s) to Related Publication(s)
Link(s) to Reference(s)
Previously Published As
Government Document
Other Identifiers
Rights URI
dissertation or thesis
Accessibility Feature
Accessibility Hazard
Accessibility Summary
Link(s) to Catalog Record