PreprintPDF Available

Abstract and Figures

International relations scholarship has made significant strides in explaining how states design treaty obligations and why they accept treaty commitments. However, far less attention has been paid to factors that may influence states’ modification of their treaty obligations via reservations. We theorize that states will be more likely to enter reservations when treaty obligations increase compliance costs and policy adjustment costs. More specifically, we expect that demanding provisions, i.e., provisions that create strong, precise obligations requiring domestic action, will enhance the likelihood of reservation. To test our theory, we exploit an original dataset that codes reservations at the provision (treaty–article–paragraph) level for the ten core international human rights treaties. Consistent with our expectations, we find that states are more likely to enter reservations on more demanding treaty provisions. In contrast to prior studies, our results indicate that reservations are not driven purely by state-level characteristics such as regime type or the nature of the legal system. Rather, it appears that states weigh individual treaty obligations and calibrate their commitments accordingly.
Content may be subject to copyright.
1"
!
!
!
Reserving)Rights:)Explaining)Human)Rights)
Treaty)Reservations
*
)
!
!
Kelebogile(Zvobgo
!
(Wayne(Sandholtz
"
(Suzie(Mulesky
#
(
(
(
International*Studies*Quarterly(pre-publication(version(
!
!
!
Abstract!
!
International! relations! scholarship! has! made! significant! strides! in! explaining! how!
states!design!treaty!obligations!and!why!they!accept!treaty!commitments.!However,!
far!less!attention!has!been!paid! to!factors!that!may! influence!states’!modification!of!
their!treaty!obligations!via!reservations.!We!theorize!that!states!will!be!more!likely!to!
enter! reservations! when! treaty! obligations! increase! compliance! costs! and! policy!
adjustment! costs.! More! specifically,! we! expect! that! demanding! provisions,! i.e.,!
provisions! that! create! strong,! precise!obligations! requiring!domestic! action,! will!
enhance! the! likelihood! of! reservation.! To! test! our! theory,! we! exploit! an! original!
dataset!that!codes!reservations!at!the!provision!(treaty-article-paragraph)!level!for!
the!ten!core!international!human!rights!treaties.!Consistent!with!our!expectations,!we!
find! that! states! are! more! likely! to! enter! reservations! on! more! demanding! treaty!
provisions.!In!contrast!to!prior!studies,!our!results!indicate!that!reservations!are!not!
driven!purely!by!state-level!characteristics!like!regime!type!or!the!nature!of!the!legal!
system.!Rather,!it!appears!that!states!weigh!individual!treaty!obligations!and!calibrate!
their!commitments!accordingly.!
!
*
For$ helpful$ comments$ on$ previous$ drafts,$ we$ thank$ the$ editors$ and$ reviewers$ at$ International* Studies*
Quarterly,$ Alison$ Brysk,$ Claire$ Greenstein,$ Courtney$Hillebrecht,$ and$ Anna$ Oltman.$ We$ are$ also$ grateful$ to$
Miriam$Barnum$for$assistance$with$data$visualization.$Previous$versions$of$this$article$were$presented$at$the$
University$ of$ California,$ Los$ Angeles,$ William$ &$ Mary,$ the$ 2018$ Annual$ Meeting$ of$ the$ American$ Political$
Science$Association,$and$the$2018$International$Studies$Association-West$Annual$Conference.$This$material$is$
based$ on$ work$ supported$ by$ the$ USC$ Provost$ Fellowship$ in$ the$ Social$ Sciences$ and$ the$ National$ Science$
Foundation$Graduate$Research$Fellowship$Program$under$Grant$No.$DGE-1418060.$Any$opinions,$findings,$and$
conclusions$or$recommendations$expressed$in$this$material$are$ those$ of$ the$ authors$ and$ do$ not$ necessarily$
reflect$the$views$of$the$National$Science$Foundation.$The$data$underlying$this$article$are$available$on$the$ISQ$
Dataverse,$at$https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/isq.$$
Political$ Science$ and$ International$ Relations,$ University$ of$ Southern$ California;$ Global$ Research$ Institute,$
William$&$Mary,$kzvobgo@wm.edu.$
Political$Science$and$International$Relations,$University$of$Southern$California,$wayne.sandholz@usc.edu.$
§
Political$Science$and$International$Relations,$University$of$Southern$California,$sjcaldwe@usc.edu.$
1"
Introduction((
!
An!enduring!puzzle!in!international!relations,!for!both!scholars!and!practitioners,!is!how!states!can!
credibly! commit! to! international! agreements!(Hathaway! 2003;! Goodliffe! and! Hawkins! 2006;!
Vreeland!2008;! Simmons! 2009;!Sikkink! 2011).! Multilateral!treaties! represent!a!common,! perhaps!
the! most! typical,! form! of! international! agreement! deployed! by! states! to! address! shared! security,!
economic,!environmental,!and!human!rights!challenges.!Indeed,!the!proliferation!of!treaties!is!part!of!
a!broader!“move!to!law”!or!the!“legalization!of!world!politics”!(Goldstein!et!al.!2000).!However,!not!
all!states!are!interested!in!costly!commitment!and!compliance.! Further,! not! all!stateseven!those!
that!!"#!interested!in!cooperationare!equally!positioned!to!commit!to!and!comply!with!all!treaty!
obligations.!
Research!has!considerably!advanced!our!understanding!of!treaty!design;!that!is,!of!why!states!
arrive!at!particular! choices! in!creating!institutions!to! manage! their!relations!in! a! given!issue!area!
(Koremenos! 2001).! !A!key! dimension! of! treaty! design! is! flexibilitythe! extent! to! which! a! treaty!
allows! states! to! modify,! temporarily! suspend,! or! even! withdraw! from! an! agreement! (Koremenos!
2016).!Flexibility!can!be!a!sensitive!issue,!particularly!in!the!design!of!treaties!that!aspire!to!universal!
state! participation,! as! human! rights! treaties! do!(Baylis!1999;! Clark! 1991;! Henkin! 1995;!Lijnzaad!
1995;! Redgwell! 1997;!Schabas! 1995).! On! the! one! hand,! less! flexibility! for!states! to! soften! their!
obligations!enhances!the!likelihood!that!a!treaty!will!achieve!its!objectives.!On!the!other!hand,!less!
flexibility!for!states!likely!decreases!the!number!states!that!are!willing!to!ratify!(Downs!1996;!Gilligan!
2004).!This!study!focuses!on!one!of!the!most!fundamental,!yet!often!contested,!mechanisms!of!treaty!
flexibility:!reservations.!
!Reservations! are! statements! that! purport! to! modify! a! state’s! obligations! under! a! ratified!
treaty.! They! allow! states! to! adjust! particular!obligations.
1
!States! can! use! reservations! to! relax!
1
$Reservations$do$not$allow$limitless$modification$of$treaty$obligations.$Reservations$are$permissible$unless$a$
treaty$expressly$prohibits$them$and$as$long$as$the$reservation$is$not$“incompatible$with$the$object$and$purpose$
of$the$treaty”$(Vienna$Convention$on$the$Law$of$Treaties$1969,$Article$19).$$$
2!
obligations!that!might!otherwise!make!a!given!treaty!too!costly!to!ratify.!In!brief,!reservations!are!a!
tool!for!increasing!flexibility!in!treaty!design!(Koremenos!2016).!Relative!to!treaty!commitment!and!
treaty!compliance,!scholarship! has!paid! less!attention! to!treaty!reservations! and!factors!that! may!
influence!states’!decision! to! use!them! (Neumayer! 2007;!Simmons! 2009;! Hill!2016;! McKibben! and!
Western!2020).!We!argue!that!analyzing!reservation!behavior!can!offer!vital!insights!into!how!states!
commit!to!treaties!and!how!they!seek!to!make!use!of!flexibility!in!treaty!design.!!
Our!analysis! focuses! on!global! human! rights!treaties,! which! pose!the!“broader! vs.! deeper”!
tradeoff!(Gilligan!2004).!The!goal!for!human!rights!treaties!is!universal!ratification.!While!flexibility!
through!reservations!makes!it!possible!for!more!states!to!ratify,!it!also!dilutes!protections!for!human!
rights!as!states! relax! some! of! their!obligations.!We!aim!to!advance!our!collective!understanding!of!
states’!reservation!behavior!by! analyzing!reservations! at!the!level! of! the!provision!(treaty-article-
paragraph).!By!examining!the!characteristics!of!obligations!that!attract!reservations,!we!add!to!our!
collective!understanding!of!treaty!design!and!treaty!commitment.!
We!argue!that!factors! at! the!provision!level!can!affect!the! likelihood! that! a! state!will!enter!
reservations.!More!specifically,!we!expect!that!states!will!be!more!likely!to!reserve!against!provisions!
that! are! more! demandingthose! that! contain! obligations! that! are! strong,! precise,! and! require!
domestic!action.!We! focus! our! theory!and!analysis!on! states! that!ratify!or! accede! to! human!rights!
treaties!because!they!are!the!states!for!whom!reservations!have!legal!consequences;!reservations!are!
meaningless!for! states! that! decline! to! accept! treaty! obligations.! Reservations! allow! a! state! to!
participate! in! a! treaty! while! easing! obligations! for! which! it! anticipates!that! compliance! would! be!
excessively! costly.! Our! argument! implies! that,! for! some! treaty! obligations,!reservation! and! non-
compliance!are!partial!substitutes:!a!state!can!reserve!now!so!as!to!avoid!non-compliance!later,!or!it!
can!ratify!without!reservation!but!subsequently!find!itself!at!risk!of!non-compliance.
2
!!
2
$That$reservations$might$be$less$costly$than$non-compliance$does$not$imply$that$we$should$never$expect$non-
compliance.$The$ inference$ that$ we$should$never$expect$ non-compliance$and$only$expect$reservations$would$
3!
We!seek!to!make!both!a!theoretical!and!empirical!contribution!to!our!understanding!of!how!
states!manage!their!treaty!obligations.!First,!we!build!into!our!theory!and!our!analysis!the!substantive!
content!of!treaties!at!the!level!of!the!provision!to!better!understand!reservations.!In!so!doing,!we!add!
to!extant!theories!and! analyses! that!operate!at!the! level! of!the!country!or! treaty.! Approaches!that!
operate! at! the! level! of! the! country! assume! that! ratification! is! a! dichotomous! choice! driven! by!
symbolic!politics,! strategic! concerns,! or! cheap!talk.
3
!However,!these!explanations! neglect!how!$%#&
'#()*)+,& $+& "!$)-.& $"#!$)#*& )*& !/*+& *%!0#'& 1.& $%#& $"#!$.& /!,23!2#!through! which! obligations! are!
articulated.
4
!Meanwhile,! approaches! that!operate! at!the! level!of! the!treaty!ignore! variation! in! the!
demandingness!of!obligations!across!treaties.!Yet,!$%#"#&)*&4!")!$)+,&!("+**&0"+4)*)+,*&5)$%),&!&*),2/#&
$"#!$.&!,'&!("+**& $"#!$)#*,! both!in! terms! of! the!subject! matter! and! the!extent! of! obligation.!In! this!
article,! we!theoretically! expect! and! empirically! demonstrate! that!states! perceive! heterogeneous!
compliance!costs!and!policy!adjustment!costs!across!different!obligations.!On!the!premise!that!more!
demanding!obligations!imply!greater!compliance!costs!and!policy!adjustment!costs,!we!argueand!
findthat!states!adjust!their!treaty!commitments!using!reservations.
5
!
Second,!we!introduce!a!novel!dataset!that!codes!reservations!at!the!provision!level!for!the!ten!
core!international!human!rights!treaties.!The!granular!nature!of!our!data!helps!to!develop!a!clearer!
understanding!of!how!states!modulate!their!commitments!and,!therefore,!the!degree!to!which!they!
can!be!held!accountable!to!human!rights!treaties.!!
Third,! we! find! that! human! rights! treaty! reservations! are! not! driven! only! by! state-level!
characteristics! like! regime! type! or! the! nature! of! the! legal! system,! as! previous!scholarship! has!
follow$only$if$nothing$changednot$ the$government,$society,$or$the$ worldbetween$the$time$of$ ratification$
and$a$subsequent$decision$made$by$a$state$to$comply$or$not.$
3
$See$Simmons’$ (2009)$discussion$of$sincere$ratifiers,$false$ negatives,$ and$false$positives$(strategic$ratifiers).$
See$also$Hafner-Burton$and$Tsutsui’s$(2005)$discussion$of$human$rights$treaties$as$window$dressing$for$some$
states.$
4
$For$an$exception,$see$Dancy$and$Sikkink$(2011)$who$describe$how$some$treaties$that$cover$physical$integrity$
rights$stipulate$individual$ criminal$ accountability$ for$ violations,$ whereas$others$do$not,$while$other$treaties$
neither$cover$physical$integrity$rights$nor$require$precise$remedial$actions$for$violations.$
5
$For$work$on$post-ratification$compliance$behavior,$see$Chayes$and$Chayes$(1993),$Checkel$(2001),$Powell$
and$Staton$(2009),$and$von$Stein$(2016).$
4!
suggested.! We! find! a! robust! relationship! between! demanding! obligations!and! the! likelihood! of!
reservation,! whereas! we! find! an! inconsistent! relationship! between! domestic! institutions! and!
reservations.!Thus,!we!demonstrate!that! the!degree!to!which!specific!provisions!create!demanding!
obligations!affects!states’!efforts!to!calibrate!their!treaty!commitments.!
(
Demanding(Obligations:(Concept(and(Utility(
Treaties! typically! create! multiple! obligations,! which! vary! in! intensity! or! “demandingness.”! Our!
approach! to! demanding! obligations! builds! on! some! of! the! insights! of! the! legalization! project! but!
moves!beyond!it! in!key!respects.!In!Abbott!and!coauthors’!formulation,!“obligation”!is!one!of!three!
dimensions!that!define!a!continuum!of!legalization,!the!other!two!being!“precision”!and!“delegation.”!
Norms! that! exhibit! a! greater! degree! of! obligation,! precision,! and! delegation! are! more! legalized!
(Abbott! and! Snidal! 2000;! Abbott! et! al.!2000).! For! this! study,! we! make! obligations!the! center! of!
attention!and! suggest! that! even! at! high! levels!of! legalization! (formal! treaties),! obligations! vary! in!
terms!of!the!burden!they!place!on!states.!We!bring!together!three!dimensions!that!allow!us!to!identify!
demanding!obligations.!!
The!first!task!is! to! identify! treaty!provisions!that!create!an!obligation.!For!example,!Article!
28(1)(a)!of!the!Convention!on!the!Rights!of!the!Child!(CRC)!establishes!an!obligation:!“States!Parties!
...!shall,!in! particular:! (a)! Make!primary!education!compulsory!and!available!free!to!all”!(1989).!!In!
some!treaties,!a!majority!of!provisions!serve!other!functions!(defining!treaty!terms!or!outlining!treaty!
mechanics,!for!example).!!
For! those! provisions! that! do! create!obligations,! three! characteristics!make! an! obligation!
demanding.!First,!an!obligation!must!be!precise.!This!dimension!closely!corresponds!with!the!same!
concept!as!used!by!Abbott!et!al.!(2000)!and!by!Koremenos!(2016).!Precise!obligations!require! (or!
prohibit)!*0#()-)(6&)'#,$)-)!1/#&!($)+,*!on!the!part!of!the!state!or!other!actors.!Precise!obligations!are!
potentially!more!costly!for!states!because!they!make!it!easier!for!other!actors!to!determine!whether!
5!
or!not!the!state!is!complying!(Koremenos!2016).!An!example!of!a!precise!obligation!is!the!following:!
“Any! person! in! custody! pursuant! to! paragraph! I! of! this! article! shall! be! assisted! in!
communicating!immediately!with!the!nearest!appropriate!representative!of!the!State!
of!which!he!is!a!national,!or,!if!he!is!a!stateless!person,!with!the!representative!of!the!
State!where!he!usually!resides”!(Convention!Against!Torture!1984,!Article!6(3)).!
&
The!following!is!an!example!of!an!imprecise!obligation:!
“States!Parties!recognize!that!women!and!girls!with!disabilities!are!subject!to!multiple!
discrimination,!and! in! this! regard! shall!take! measures! to! ensure! the!full! and! equal!
enjoyment!by!them!of!all!human!rights!and!fundamental!freedoms”! (Convention!on!
the!Rights!of!Persons!with!Disabilities!2006,!Article!6).!
!
The!second! dimension!taps!into!whether!an!obligation! is!strong!or!weak.!Weak!obligations!
express!a!goal!or!aspiration;!strong!obligations,!by!contrast,!stipulate!what!a!state!73*$!(or!must!not)!
do.! The! distinction! between! “shall”! or! “shall! not”! and! “undertake! to”! is! a! key! distinction! that!
dramatically!alters!the!likely!costs!to!a!state.!Some!treaty!terms!indicate!a!weak!obligation!because!
they!allow!states!leeway!in!deciding!the!extent!of!their!obligations:!“when!circumstances!so!warrant,”!
“take!all!feasible!measures,”!“whenever! appropriate,”! “whenever! desirable.”! ! These!phrases!create!
weak!obligations! because!they!allow!states!to! determine!when!a!particular!action!is!“appropriate,”!
or!when!circumstances!“warrant.”!Weak!obligations!are!less!costly!because!all!that!is!required!is!for!
the!state!to!make!*+7#!effort,!the!nature!and!extent!of!which!is!up!to!the!state.!As!a!weak!obligation,!
we!would!cite:!
“States!Parties!3,'#"$!8#!to!ensure!the!child!such!protection!and!care!as!is!necessary!for!his!
or! her! well-being,! $!8),2& ),$+& !((+3,$!the! rights! and! duties! of! his! or! her! parents,! legal!
guardians,!or!other!individuals!legally!responsible!for!him!or!her...”!(Convention!on!the!Rights!
of!the!Child!1989,!Article!3(2);!emphasis!added).!!
!
An!example!of!a!strong!obligation!is!the!following:!
“States!Parties!*%!//&!((+"'!to!women,!in!civil!matters,!a!legal!capacity!identical!to!that!of!men!
and!the! same!opportunities! to!exercise! that! capacity.! In!particular,! they!*%!//& 2)4#!women!
equal!rights!to!conclude!contracts!and!to!administer!property!and!*%!//&$"#!$!them!equally!in!
all!stages!of!procedure!in!courts!and!tribunals.”!(Convention!on!the!Elimination!of!All!Forms!
of!Discrimination!Against!Women!1979,!Article!15(2);!emphasis!added).!
!
6!
The!third! dimension!captures!whether!a!provision!obligates! states!to!take!domestic!action.!!
“Domestic!action”!means!that!an!executive,!administrative,!legislative,!or!judicial!body!must!carry!out!
the! identified! obligation.! ! Not! all! obligations! created! by! a! treaty! require! domestic! action;! some!
provisions!obligate!states! vis-a-vis! each!other!or!an!international! organization.
6
!An!example!of! an!
obligation!requiring!domestic!action!is:!
“Each!State!Party!shall!ensure!that!all!acts!of!torture!are!offences!under!its!criminal!law.!The!
same! shall! apply! to! an! attempt! to! commit! torture! and! to! an! act! by! any! person! which!
constitutes!complicity!or!participation!in!torture”!(Convention!Against!Torture!1984,!Article!
4(1)).!!
!
As!an!obligation!that!does!not!require!domestic!action,!we!would!cite:!
Any! State! Party! to! the! present! Covenant! availing! itself! of! the! right! of! derogation! shall!
immediately! inform! the! other! States! Parties! to! the! present! Covenant,! through! the!
intermediary!of!the!Secretary-General!of!the!United!Nations,!of!the!provisions!from!which!it!
has!derogated!and!of!the!reasons!by!which!it!was!actuated.!A!further!communication!shall!be!
made,!through! the!same!intermediary,!on!the! date!on!which!it!terminates! such!derogation”!
(International!Covenant!on!Civil!and!Political!Rights!1966,!Article!4).!
!
We!suggest!that!obligations!to!implement!domestic!measures!tend!to!imply!greater!costs!for!
states.!Research!on!human!rights!treaties!finds!that!the!primary!means!by!which!they!bring!pressure!
on! rights-violating! governments!are! domestic,! through! political! mobilization! or! judicial! action!
(Simmons! 2009).! The! failure! to! take! domestic! measures! (as! opposed! to! the! failure! to! honor!
obligations!vis-à-vis!another!state)!are!more!likely!to!trigger!domestic!political!or!judicial!action.!
!We!define!demanding!obligations!as!those!that!are!precise,!and!strong,!and!require!domestic!
action.
7
!!!
!
Reservations:(The(State(of(Knowledge((
!
A! reservation! is! a! statement! by! which! a! state! excludes! or! alters! the! legal! effect! of! certain! treaty!
6
$Though,$in$our$sample,$91$percent$of$the$obligations$require$domestic$action.$
7
$In$our$ data,$ an$obligation$is$coded$ as$Demanding$=$1$if$Precise$=$1$and$Strong$=$ 1$and$ Domestic* action$=$ 1;$
otherwise,$Demanding*=$0.$
7!
provisions! as! they! pertain! to! that! state! (United! Nations! 2012,! 12;! Bradley! and! Goldsmith! 2000;!
Schabas!1995).! Reservations!are!distinct!from!understandings!and!declarations,! which!can!neither!
exclude! nor! alter! the! legal! effect! of! treaty! provisions! (United! Nations! 2012:! 16).! We! focus! on!
reservations!because!they! entail! legal!consequences;!we! exclude! understandings!and!declarations!
because,!though!they!may!have!rhetorical!uses,!they!have!no!legal!effects.!The!Vienna!Convention!on!
the! Law! of! Treaties! permits! treaty! reservations! unless! “(a)! The! reservation! is! prohibited! by! the!
treaty;!(b)!The!treaty!provides!that!only!specified!reservations,!which!do!not!include!the!reservation!
in!question,!may!be!made;!or,!(c)!In!cases!not!falling!under!the!above!two!categories,!the!reservation!
is!incompatible!with!the!object!and!purpose!of!the!treaty”!(1969,!Article!19).!!
Scholars! have! observed! that! human! rights! treaties! are! particularly! susceptible! to!
reservations!because! human!rights!treaties!aim!to!regulate!states’!domestic! behavior,!unlike!other!
treaties!which! regulate!behavior!between!and!among! states.!Indeed,!human!rights!treaties! disrupt!
state! sovereignty! in! a! manner! distinct! from! other! treaty! types! (Clark! 1991;! Hathaway! 2003;!
Neumayer! 2007;! von! Stein! 2016).! Scholars! are! divided! on! the! question! of! the! validity! and!
implications!of!reservations!for!the!international!human!rights!regime.!On!the!one!hand,!reservations!
bolster!human!rights!treaties!by!increasing!participation,!which!international!organizations,!like!the!
United!Nations!(UN),! greatly! value!(Schabas!1995).! In! addition!to! recognizing! global!political! and!
cultural! diversity,! reservations! affirm! a! fundamental! principle! of! international! law:! sovereign!
consent!(Bradley!and!Goldsmith!2000).!On!the!other!hand,!reservations!can!undermine!universality,!
call! into! question! states’! motivations! for! becoming! a! party! to! a! treaty,! and,! when! numerous! and!
extensive,!threaten!the!integrity!of!treaties!(Baylis!1999;!Clark!1991;!Henkin!1995;!Schabas!1995).!
Some!scholars!even!argue!that!reservations!should!be!disallowed!(Lijnzaad!1995;!Redgwell!1997).!
But!what!factors!predict!human!rights!treaty!reservations?!Relatively!few!studies!answer!this!
question!empirically.!Neumayer!(2007)!evaluates!the!relationship!between!respect!for!human!rights!
and!democracy!(on!the!one!hand)!and!treaty!reservations,!understandings!and!declarations!(RUDs)!
8!
(on!the! other),!from!1948!to!2005.! Neumayer! finds!that!countries!with!higher!levels!of! respect!for!
human!rights!enter!more!RUDs!than!countries!with!lower!levels!of!respect!for!human!rights,!while!
more! democratic! countries! enter! more! RUDs! than! less! democratic! countries.!Neumayer!
consequently!takes!a! less! pessimistic! view!of! reservations,! arguing! that!democratic! countries! and!
human! rights-respecting! countries! do! not! use! RUDs!maliciously!but,! rather,!to! indicate! credible!
commitment.! Contrary! to! Neumayer! (2007),! Simmons! (2009,! 98-103)! finds! that! democratic!
countries!are!actually!less!likely!to!enter!RUDs!than!non-democratic!countries.!!
Recent!work! by! Hill! (2016)!and! McKibben!and! Western!(2020)!presents!a!rejoinder!to!the!
argument!that!states’!existing!human!rights!preferences!and!human!rights!practice!best!explain!the!
use! of! reservations.! Hill! (2016)! argues! that! domestic! legal! constraints! and! the! likelihood! of!
enforcement! by! domestic! courts! explain! states’! use! of! RUDs.!Using! the! case! of! the! International!
Covenant!on! Civil!and! Political!Rights!(ICCPR),! Hill!finds! that! governments!are! more!likely! to! use!
RUDs!when! ratification!entails! adopting! a! higher! legal! standard! of! rights! protection”! and! when!
governments!expect!enforcement!by!domestic!courts!(2016,!1134).!McKibben!and!Western!(2020)!
similarly!argue!that!state!executive!power,!relative!to!state!legislative!and!judicial!power,!influences!
both!the!use! of! reservations!and! the! types!of! reservations! used.!McKibben!and! Western!find!that!
executives!that!are!more!constrained!by!the!legislative!and!judicial!branches!are!more!likely!to!enter!
reservations!than!executives!that! are! less! constrained.! Moreover,!when!faced!with!greater!judicial!
constraints,!executives!are!more!likely!to!employ!procedural!reservations!whereas,!when!faced!with!
greater!legislative!constraints,!are!more!likely!to!use!substantive!reservations.!!
Neumayer! (2007),! Simmons! (2009),! Hill! (2016),!and! McKibben! and! Western! (2020)!
represent! important! steps! towards! understanding! factors! likely! to! influence! state! reservation!
behavior.!We!build!on!the!existing!research!by,!first,!separating!reservations!from!understandings!
and!declarations.!As!noted!above,!reservations!are!legal!tools!states!use!to!modify!the!legal!effect!of!
certain!treaty!provisions,!whereas!understandings!and!declarations!are!not.!Indeed,!as!seen!in!Figure!
9!
1,!patterns! of! reservations! and! declarations
8
!differ!considerably!across! the! treaties! in! our! data.!
Second,!previous!research!analyzes!whether!a! state! has! entered! reservations! (or! reservations! of! a!
particular! type)! on! a! given! treaty.! In! contrast,! we! examine! each! obligation! in! each! of! the! ten!
international! human! rights! treaties! and! model! whether! a! state! has! entered! a! reservation! +,& $%!$&
+1/)2!$)+,.!We!are!thus!able!to!offer!a!more!fine-grained!analysis!of!how!states!seek!to!modulate!their!
treaty!commitments.!
!
Figure!1:!Human!Rights!Treaty!Reservations!and!Declarations,!1948-2014!
!
!
!
Demanding(Obligations(and(Reservations((
!
Prior!research!shows!that!human!rights!treaties!have!their!greatest!effect!through!domestic!action.!
Indeed,! “treaties! are! causally! meaningful! to! the! extent! that! they! empower! individuals,! groups,!or!
8
$For$clarity,$understandings$are$included$in$the$declarations$category,$since$they$are$similar$in$legal$status$and$
effects.$
0
50
100
150
200
250
CAT CED CEDAW CERD CRC CRMW CRPD GENO ICCPR ICESCR
Treaty
Total Submitted
Reservations
Declarations
10!
parts!of!the!state!with!different!rights!preferences!that! were!not!empowered!to!the!same!extent!in!
the!absence!of!the!treaties”!(Simmons!2009,!25).
9
!We!extend!this!logic!to!treaty!0"+4)*)+,*.!!
Treaty! provisions! that! create! demanding! obligations! entail! a! higher! likelihood! that! non-
compliance! will! be! detected,! publicized,! criticized,! and! penalized.!Thus,! they! may! attract! more!
reservations.!Demanding!provisions!assist!advocates!when!challenging!non-compliant!governments,!
as!it!is!easier!to!identify!and!contest!non-compliance!with!these!provisions,!for!example,!via!litigation.!
Demanding!provisions!imply!higher! downstream!costs!for!ratifying!states! than!do!non-demanding!
provisions!precisely!because!they!further!empower!domestic!actors!to!punish!non-compliance!and!
apply!pressure!for!compliance.!To!forego!future!costs!and! to! preempt! domestic! challenges,! a!state!
may!enter!reservations!to!relax!its!obligations!when!ratifying.!!
!Governments!may!thus!view!reservation!and! non-compliance!as!partial!substitutes.!A!state!
may!reserve!on!a!particular!obligation!if!it!believes!it!will!be!unable!to!comply!later.!Under!this!logic,!
it!is!better!to!avoid!or!dilute!an!obligation!than!to!accept!it!and!subsequently!violate!it.
10
!There!may!
be! some! costs! associated! with! reservations,! to! the! extent! that! other! states! or! non-governmental!
organizations! (NGOs)! criticize! the! reserving! state.! The! human!rights! treaty!bodies,! as! well! as! the!
universal! periodic! review! process! at! the! UN! Human! Rights! Council,! may! also! produce!
recommendations!that!a!state!withdraw!its!reservations.!Domestic!actors!could!then!leverage!such!a!
recommendation!to!apply!pressure!on!the!government.!Still,!a!reservation!does!not!provide!the!basis!
for! rights! litigation! in! domestic! courts! that! a! violation! can.! There! may! also! be! some! reputational!
benefits!to!not! reserving,! to! the! extent! that! rights-promoting!states!and!NGOs!credit!states!for!not!
reserving,!though!we!can!cite!no!examples.!On!the!whole,!we!must!assume!that!the!costs!of!reserving!
are!lower!on!average!than!the!costs!of!violation!and!we!know!of!no!research!that!would!lead!us!to!
expect! otherwise.! Indeed,! it! would! be! difficult! to! account! for! reservations! at! all! if! states! did! not!
9
$See,$also,$von$Stein$(2016).$
10
$Of$course,$a$subsequent$government$in$the$same$state$might$view$the$tradeoff$differently,$which$is$why$we$
should$expect$to$observe$both$reservations$and$subsequent$non-compliance.$
11!
generally!see!reserving!as!less!costly!than!non-compliance.!In!other!words,!we!assume!that!entering!
a!reservation!is!more!“under!the! radar”! than! treaty! violation,!therefore!eliciting!less!criticism!and!
other!forms!of!pressure.!Thus,!we!offer!the!following!hypothesis:!
!
Hypothesis!1:!9$!$#*& 5)//& 1#& 7+"#& /)8#/.& $+&"#*#"4#&!2!),*$&0"+4)*)+,*&$%!$&("#!$#&'#7!,'),2&
+1/)2!$)+,*&:+1/)2!$)+,*&$%!$&!"#&*$"+,26&0"#()*#6&!,'&*$)03/!$#&'+7#*$)(&!($)+,;<&&
!
Provisions! also! vary! as! to! whether! they! permit! states! to! temporarily! suspend! them!
(derogate).!Derogation!is!a!flexibility! mechanism!(Koremenos!2016)!that!allows!states! to! suspend!
temporarily!some!treaty!obligations!under!exceptional!circumstances,!like!emergencies!that!threaten!
the! existence! of! the! state.! However,! some! human! rights! treaties! identify! certain! provisions! from!
which!no! derogations! are!permissible.!Provisions!that!are!subject!to!non-derogation! clauses!might!
make!some!obligations! appear! more! demanding!to!states!because!states!can!never!suspend!them.!
For!example,!with!respect!to!physical!integrity!rights,!non-derogable!provisions!significantly!curtail!
non-democratic! leaders’! ability! to! repress! disfavored! groups.! Non-derogable!provisions! may! also!
require!significant! policy!adjustment! for! democratic! leaders! in! times! of!crisis.! For!example,! some!
state!leaders!may!favor!torture!as!an!intelligence-gathering!technique!when!there!are!significant!and!
impending!threats!to!national!security.!However,!for!states!parties!to!the!Convention!against!Torture,!
there!are! “[n]o!exceptional! circumstances! whatsoever,! whether! a!state! of!war! or!a! threat!of! war,!
internal!political!instability!or!any!other!public!emergency,![that]!may!be!invoked!as!a!justification!of!
torture”!(Convention!Against!Torture!1984,!Article!2(2)).!Because!non-derogable!obligations!imply!
potentially!greater!downstream!costs,!we!offer!the!following!subsidiary!proposition:!
!
=.0+$%#*)*&>?&9$!$#*&5)//&1#&7+"#&/)8#/.& $+& "#*#"4#& !2!),*$& 0"+4)*)+,*&$%!$&!"#&*31@#($&$+&,+,A
'#"+2!$)+,&(/!3*#*<&&
!
!
!
12!
Data((
!
We!evaluate!our!hypotheses!against!an!original!dataset!measuring!international!human!rights!treaty!
obligations!(Mulesky,!Sandholtz,! and!Zvobgo!2020)!and!reservations.!Treaty!provisions!have!three!
levels:!treaty,!article,!and!paragraph.!Sometimes,!countries!will!attach!a!reservation!to!a!whole!article.!
We!consider!whole-article!reservations!as!reservations!against!each!constituent!paragraph!(if!there!
are!any;!not!every!article!contains!sub-units).!We!exclude!reservations!at!the!treaty!level!because!it!
is!impossible!to!code!their!significance!at!the!provision!level,!which!is!our!focus.!Indeed,!treaty-level!
reservations! contain! no! information! relevant! to! particular!obligations!but,! rather,! convey!
information!about!the! relationship! between! domestic!law!(usually! Sharia! law! or!the! constitution)!
and! international! law,! or! about! traditional! values! and! culture,! or! about! political! issues,! like! the!
ratifying!state’s!relations!with!Israel!(as!McKibben!and!Western!also!point!out).!Because!treaty-level!
reservations!tell!us!nothing!about!how!states!respond!to!the!demandingness!of!particular!obligations,!
we!exclude!them!from!the!analysis.
11
!
Each!provision! of! each!treaty! was! coded! independently!by! two! trained!graduate! students.!
The! principal! investigator! resolved!disagreements! between! the! coders.
12
!Based! on! the! three!
dimensions!described,!we!created!a!binary!indicator!that!identifies!demanding!treaty!obligations
those!that!are!simultaneously!precise,!strong,!and!stipulate!domestic!action.!As!seen!in!Table!1,!these!
treaties!opened!for!signature!between!1948!and!2006.!Our!data!coverage!begins!in!1948!and!ends!in!
2014.!
11
$See$the$supplementary$appendix$for$a$longer$discussion$of$whole-treaty$reservations.$
12
$Further$details$on$the$variables$and$inter-coder$reliability$are$available$in$the$supplementary$appendix.$
13!
!
!
Table!1:!International!human!rights!treaties!used!in!the!analysis,!through!2014!
!
$%&'()*
+,,%&-.'(./0*
$%&'()*1'2&*
3'(&*45&0&6*
7/%*8.90'(:%&*
;<14*
=/0-&0(./0*/0*(>&*?%&-&0(./0*'06*?:0.@>2&0(*/7*(>&*=%.2&*/7*;&0/A.6&*
3&A&2,&%*BC*DBEF*
=<G3*
H0(&%0'(./0'I*=/0-&0(./0*/0*(>&*<I.2.0'(./0*/7*+II*J/%2@*/7*G'A.'I*
3.@A%.2.0'(./0*
K'%A>*LC*DBMM*
H==?G*
H0(&%0'(./0'I*=/-&0'0(*/0*=.-.I*'06*?/I.(.A'I*G.9>(@*
3&A&2,&%*DMC*DBMM*
H=<8=G*
H0(&%0'(./0'I*=/-&0'0(*/0*<A/0/2.AC*8/A.'I*'06*=:I(:%'I*G.9>(@*
3&A&2,&%*DMC*DBMM*
=<3+N*
=/0-&0(./0*/0*(>&*<I.2.0'(./0*/7*+II*J/%2@*/7*3.@A%.2.0'(./0*'9'.0@(*
N/2&0*
3&A&2,&%*DFC*DBLB*
=+$*
=/0-&0(./0*'9'.0@(*$/%(:%&*'06*4(>&%*=%:&IC*H0>:2'0C*/%*3&9%'6.09*
$%&'(2&0(*/%*?:0.@>2&0(*
3&A&2,&%*DOC*DBFE*
=G=*
=/0-&0(./0*/0*(>&*G.9>(@*/7*(>&*=>.I6*
1/-&2,&%*POC*DBFB*
=GKN*
H0(&%0'(./0'I*=/0-&0(./0*/0*(>&*?%/(&A(./0*/7*(>&*G.9>(@*/7*+II*K.9%'0(*
N/%Q&%@*'06*K&2,&%@*/7*$>&.%*J'2.I.&@*
3&A&2,&%*DFC*DBBO*
=G?3*
=/0-&0(./0*/0*(>&*G.9>(@*/7*?&%@/0@*R.(>*3.@',.I.(.&@*
3&A&2,&%*DSC*POOM*
=<3*
=/0-&0(./0*7/%*(>&*?%/(&A(./0*/7*+II*?&%@/0@*7%/2*<07/%A&6*3.@'55&'%'0A&*
3&A&2,&%*POC*POOM*
!
!
! !
14!
Treaty!provisions!have! different! functions.!As!discussed,!our! focus!is!on! obligations.! Other!
functions! of! provisions! include,! for! example,! describing! the! foundation! of! the! treaty! (preamble),!
setting!the!general!purpose!or!object! of!the!treaty,!and! defining!treaty!terms.!Figure!2!displays!the!
proportion!of!treaty!provisions!that!constitute!obligations!across!the!ten!treaties.!!
!
Figure!2:!Provisions!that!Constitute!Obligations!
!
!
!
!
!
Dependent"Variable:"Reservation""
!
Our!dependent!variable!of! interest,!B#*#"4!$)+,,! is!a!dichotomous!variable!that,!for!all!ten! treaties!
and!for!each!treaty!obligation!and!each!state,!indicates!whether!that!state!entered!a!reservation!on!
that!provision.!States!may!enter!a!reservation!against!a! specific! provision,! e.g.!Article!15(2)!of!the!
Convention!on!the!Elimination!of!All!Forms!of!Discrimination!Against!Women!(CEDAW),!or!against!a!
whole!article,! e.g.,!Article!15!of!CEDAW.!Given!a!reservation!against!a!whole!article,!such!as!Article!
15!of!CEDAW,!each!of!its!four!paragraphs!(or!provisions)!is!coded!as!having!a!reservation!attached!
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
CAT CED CEDAW CERD CRC CRMW CRPD GENO ICCPR ICESCR
Treaty
Total Provisions
Obligations
Other Provisions
15!
to!it.!!
For!purposes!of!the!analysis,!we!examine!reservations!entered!by!states!that!have!ratified!or!
acceded!to!a!given!treaty.!As!noted!above,!reservations!have!no!legal!meaning!for!states!that!do!not!
ratify.!We!are!most!interested!in!the!commitments!states!actually!make,!so!it!is!appropriate!to!focus!
on!the! states! that!have! committed! to!treaties.! We! include! reservations!within!a! five-year! window!
centered!on!the!year!of!ratification!or!accession!because!these!are!the!reservations!most!closely!tied!
to!the!decision!to!commit!to!the!treaty.
13
!That!is,!B#*#"4!$)+,&=!1&if!a!state!that!has!ratified!the!treaty!
enters!a!reservation!in!the!two!years!preceding!the!year!of!ratification,!during!the!year!of!ratification,!
or!in!the!two!years!following!the!year!of!ratification.! In! fact,! 90!percent! of!reservations!have!been!
entered!in!the!same!year!as!ratification!or!accession.!Eight!percent!of!reservations!have!been!entered!
prior!to!ratification,!while!2!percent!have!been!entered!following!ratification.
14
!Our!five-year!window!
captures!91.5!percent!of!all!reservations.!!
We! made! this! research! design! choice! as! an! exercise! of! caution,! to!ensure! that! we! are!
comparing! like! units.! Returning! to! the! treaty! many! years! later! to! adjust! commitments! already!
undertaken!would!constitute!an!entirely!different!kind!of!action,!one!future!research!could!explore.!
In!addition,!later!reservations!are!likely!made!by!different!domestic!governments!or!leaders!facing!
different!constraints!than!the!governments!or!leaders!who!were!in!office!at!time!of!ratification;!that!
is,!those!governments!and!leaders!who!committed!their!countries!to!the!relevant!treaty!or!treaties.!!
!
" "
13
$It$ may$ seem$ surprising$ that$ states$ enter$ reservations$ prior$ to$ ratification,$ but$ it$ does$ happen.$ In$ some$
countries,$reservations$are$entered$as$part$of$the$process$of$preparing$for$ratification.$Of$course,$reservations$
entered$before$ratification$are$as$valid$as$any$other$reservation.$
14
$As$previously$mentioned,$we$exclude$from$the$analysis$reservations$that$purport$to$apply$to$the$entire$treaty.$
Such$reservations$ preclude$ the$kind$of$variation$we$ analyze,$ namely,$variation$across$provisions$in$terms$ of$
how$demanding$they$are.$$
16!
Independent"Variables:"Demanding"Obligations""
!
Our!independent!variable!of!primary!interest!is!the!binary!variable!C#7!,'),2,!which!captures,!as!
explained!above,!obligations!that!are!strong,!precise,!and!require!domestic!action.
15
!Some!examples!
might!clarify!what!is!being!captured!by!C#7!,'),2.!Consider!first!Venezuela’s!reservation!regarding!
extradition!of!individuals!alleged!to!have!committed!the!crime!of!genocide!as!stipulated!in!Article!7!
(single!paragraph!article)!of!the!Genocide!Convention!(GENO).!
Obligation!(demanding)!
“Genocide! and! the! other! acts! enumerated! in! article! III! shall! not! be! considered! as!
political! crimes! for! the! purpose! of! extradition.! The! Contracting! Parties! pledge!
themselves! in! such! cases! to! grant! extradition! in! accordance! with! their! laws! and!
treaties!in!force.”!(Genocide!Convention!1948,!Article!7)!
!
Reservation!
“With!reference!to! article! VII,! notice!is!given!that!the!laws!in!force!in!Venezuela!do!
not!permit!the!extradition!of!Venezuelan!nationals.”!(Venezuela,!July!12,!1960)!
&
Next,! see! Slovenia’s! reservation! regarding! judicial! review! over! the! issue! of! child! separation! as!
stipulated!in!Article!9,!Paragraph!1!of!the!Convention!on!the!Rights!of!the!Child!(CRC).!
Obligation!(demanding)!
“States!Parties!shall!ensure!that!a!child!shall!not!be!separated!from!his!or!her!parents!
against! their! will,! except! when! competent! authorities! subject! to! judicial! review!
determine,!in!accordance!with!applicable!law!and!procedures,!that!such!separation!is!
necessary!for!the!best!interests!of!the!child.!Such!determination!may!be!necessary!in!
a!particular!case!such!as!one!involving!abuse!or!neglect!of!the!child!by!the!parents,!or!
one!where!the!parents!are!living!separately! and! a! decision! must!be!made!as!to!the!
child's!place!of!residence.”!(Convention!on!the!Rights!of!the!Child!1989,!Article!9(1))!
!
Reservation!
“The!Republic!of!Slovenia!reserves!the!right!not!to!apply!paragraph!1!of! article!9!of!
the!Convention!since!the!internal!legislation!of!the!Republic!of!Slovenia!provides!for!
the! right! of! competent! authorities! (centres! for! social! work)! to! determine! on!
separation! of! a! child! from! his/her! parents! without! a! previous! judicial! review.”!
(Slovenia,!July!6,!1992)!
!
15
$In$ the$ supplementary$ appendix,$ we$ use$an$ index$ rather$ than$ a$ dichotomous$ measure$ of$ demanding$
provisions.$ Our$ results$ are$ robust$ to$ both$ specifications.$ We$ also$ produce$ descriptive$ statistics$ and$ a$
supplementary$analysis$that$show$that$the$most$important$elements$of$our$measure$of$demanding$obligations$
are$precision$and$domestic$action.$
17!
Finally,!see!Singapore’s!reservation! regarding! non-discrimination! in! health!insurance!provision!as!
stipulated! in! the! fifth! paragraph! of! Article! 25! of! the! ! Convention! on! the! Rights! of! Persons!with!
Disabilities!(CRPD).!
Obligation!(demanding)!
“In! particular,! States! Parties! shall:! Prohibit! discrimination! against! persons! with!
disabilities! in! the! provision! of! health! insurance,! and! life! insurance! where! such!
insurance! is! permitted! by! national! law,! which! shall! be! provided! in! a! fair! and!
reasonable! manner.”! (Convention! on! the! Rights! of! Persons! with! Disabilities!2006,!
Article!25(e))!
!
Reservation!
“The!Republic!of!Singapore!recognises!that!persons!with!disabilities!have!the!right!to!
enjoyment!of!the!highest!attainable!standards!of!health!without!discrimination!on!the!
basis!of! disability,! with! a!reservation!on!the!provision!by!private!insurers! of! health!
insurance,!and!life!insurance,!other!than!national!health!insurance!regulated!by!the!
Ministry! of! Health,! Singapore,! in! Article! 25,! paragraph! (e)! of! the! Convention.”!
(Singapore,!July!18,!2013)!
!
! !
18!
Figure!3!displays!the!proportion!of!obligations!that!are!demanding!(simultaneously!strong,!precise,!
and!that!stipulate!domestic!action).!Among!the!treaties!in!our!sample,!the!Convention!on!the!Rights!
of! Migrant! Workers! (CRMW)! has! the! most! demanding! obligations,! while! the!International!
Convention!on!the!Elimination!of!All!Forms!of!Racial!Discrimination!(CERD)!has!the!fewest.!
Figure!3:!Obligations!that!are!Demanding!
!
!
! !
0
50
100
150
200
CAT CED CEDAW CERD CRC CRMW CRPD GENO ICCPR ICESCR
Treaty
Total Obligations
Demanding
NonDemanding
19!
Figure!4! displays,! for!each! treaty,!the! proportion!of! obligations!that! have! at! least! one!reservation!
entered.!Among!the!treaties!in!our!sample,!the!CRC!has!the! most!obligations!against!which!at!least!
one!state!has!entered!a!reservation,!while!the!Convention!on!Enforced!Disappearances!(CED)!has!the!
fewest.!!
"
Figure!4:!Obligations!with!at!least!One!Reservation!
!
!
!
! !
0
50
100
150
200
CAT CED CEDAW CERD CRC CRMW CRPD GENO ICCPR ICESCR
Treaty
Total Obligations
At least one
reservation
No
reservations
20!
Figure!5! displays,!for! each!treaty,! the! proportion!of! demanding! obligations! that! have! at! least! one!
reservation! entered.! Among! the! treaties! in! our! sample,! the! ICCPR!has! the! most! demanding!
obligations!against!which!at!least!one!state!has!entered!a!reservation,!while!its!twin,!the!International!
Covenant!on!Economic,!Social,!and!Cultural!Rights!(ICESCR)!has!none!(in!part!because!it!has!so!few!
demanding! obligations).! Each! demanding! obligation! of! GENO! and! CEDAW!has! at! least! one!
reservation.!
"
Figure!5:!Demanding!Obligations!with!at!least!One!Reservation!
"
"
"
!
! !
0
50
100
CAT CED CEDAW CERD CRC CRMW CRPD GENO ICCPR ICESCR
Treaty
Demanding Obligations
At least one
reservation
No
reservations
21!
Figure!6!displays,!for!each!treaty,! the!mean!number!of! reservations!per!state!(diamonds)!and!total!
number!of!reservations! by! state!(dots).! (Note:! country! name!labels! are! assigned! for!the! top-three!
reserving!states!unless!there!is!a!tie.!For!ease!of!viewing,!the!dots!marking!the!number!of!reservations!
by!each! state! are!“jittered.”! Thus,!dots! representing! equal!values! do! not!line! up! perfectly.)! As! the!
figure!makes!clear,! most! states! do! not! enter!reservations.!Among!treaties,!the!ICCPR,!CEDAW,!and!
CRC!have!the!highest!per-state!reservations!average,!while!the!CED!has!the!lowest.! This! comports!
with!previous!scholarship,!for!example!Schabas!(1995;!1996).!
"
Figure!6:!Mean!Number!of!Reservations!and!Most-Prominent!Reserving!States!
"
"
"
!
Our! independent! variable! of! secondary! interest! is! the! binary! variable! D+,A'#"+2!$)+,,! which!
indicates!whether!a!given!provision!is!subject!to!a!non-derogation!clause,!meaning!that!states!cannot!
suspend!or! decline!to!apply!it!for!any!reason,! including! national!emergencies.!For!example,!Article!
4(2)!of!the!ICCPR!stipulates,!“No!derogation!from!articles!6,!7,!8!(paragraphs!1!and!2),!11,!15,!16!and!
22!
18! may! be! made! under! this! provision”! (1966,! Article!4(2)).! The! articles! listed! (and! their! sub-
paragraphs)!are!therefore!coded!as!non-derogable.!
!
Control"variables""
!
We! control! for! a! range! of! potentially! confounding! factors,! namely! legal! institutional,! political!
institutional,! economic,! and! demographic! characteristics! of! countries! that! may! influence! the!
likelihood!of!reservation.!We!discuss!them!in!turn.!With!the!exception!of!common!law!systems!and!
the!domestic!legal!status!of!treaties,!the!control!variables!can!change!from!year!to!year.!So,!we!use!an!
average!of!each!of!these!variables!in!the!three-year!period!preceding!ratification.!We!include!treaty!
dummies!in!the!final!regression!model.
16
!
!
E#2!/&),*$)$3$)+,*&
!
The!nature!and!extent!of!non-compliance,!as!well!as!unrealized!policy!adjustment,!is!determined!and!
sanctioned!through!the!domestic!legal!system!(Simmons!2009;!Sandholtz!2017).!Thus,!we!control!for!
four!key! types! of! domestic! legal! institutions:! common! law,! judicial! independence,! the! status! of!
treaties! relative! to! domestic! law,! and! the! existence! and! strength! of!a!national! human! rights!
institutions!(NHRI).!!
!We! begin! with! common! law! systems.! Judges! in! common! law! systems! enjoy! greater!
independence!from!the!executive!and!legislative!branches.!In!addition,!judges!in!these!systems!are!
empowered!to!interpret!and!apply!treaty!law!in!ways!potentially!unintended!by!their!executive!and!
legislative! counterparts! (Simmons! 2009).! These! two! features! of! common! law! systems! may! make!
executives!and!legislatures!more!reluctant!to!ratify!or!accede!to!human!rights!treaties!and!certainly!
16
$As$a$robustness$check,$we$also$estimated$Heckman$selection$models,$with$the$selection$equation$modeling$
ratification$as$ a$ binary$ outcome$ and$the$outcome$ equation$ modeling$ reservation$ at$the$provision$ level$ as$a$
binary$outcome.$The$results$were$entirely$consistent$with$the$findings$reported$here.$Most$importantly,$states$
were$more$likely$to$enter$reservations$on$more$ demanding$treaty$provisions.$Results$are$available$from$the$
authors$
23!
more!likely! to! attach!reservations! when! they!do!ratify! or! accede!to!treaties.! We!take!the!measure!
F+77+,& /!5!from! JuriGlobe’s! (2010)! Legal! Systems! Classification,! which! codes! states! as! having!
common,!civil,!customary,!Islamic,!or!mixed!law!systems.!Specifically,!we!use!the!“common!law!only”!
variable!which!captures!the!strictest!definition!of!a!common!law!system.
17
!!
!Independent!courtsthat!is,!courts!that!are!able!to!decide!cases!relatively!free!of!influence!
from!other!branches!of!government!or!political!actorshave!greater!capacity!to!apply!treaty!law!to!
support! findings! that! state! actors! violated! treaty! rights.! Conversely,! courts! that! are! subject! to!
executive! branch! pressure! or! control! are! much! less! likely! to! do! so.! Consequently,! executives! and!
legislatures!may!here!also!be!more!reluctant!to!ratify!human!rights!treaties!and!more!likely!to!enter!
reservations!when!they!do!ratify!or!accede!to!them.!G3')()!/&),'#0#,'#,(#&comes!from!the!Varieties!
of!Democracy!(V-Dem)!Project,!specifically!the!measure!of!high!court!independence!(Coppedge!et.!al,!
2018).!This!measure!captures!how!often!the!high!court!makes!decisions!based!on!the!wishes!of!the!
government,!rather!than!the!legal!record.!Countries!receive!a!minimum!score!of! 0! when! the! court!
!/5!.*!bases!its!decisions!on! the! government’s! wishes!and!a!maximum!value! of! 4! when!the!court!
,#4#"!bases!its!decisions!on!the!government’s!wishes.!!
!We!also!take!into! account! the! domestic!legal!status!of!treaties,
18
!which!may!also! influence!
reservation.!In!countries!where!treaties!have!an!equal!or!superior!status!to!domestic!statute,!treaty!
law!can!be!more!swiftly!deployed!to!contest!treaty!non-compliant!state!leaders,!agents,!or!policies,!
increasing!the! likelihood! of!reservations.!States!where!treaties!have!an! equal! or!superior!status!to!
domestic!statute!may!thus!be!more!likely!to!attach!reservations.!H"#!$.&#I3!/&+"&*30#")+"!is!a!binary!
indicator! which! takes! a! value! of! 1! when! a! state’s! constitution! specifies! equality!or! superiority! of!
17
$We$ thus$ exclude$ (1)$ states$ with$ a$ mixed$ tradition$ of$ common$ law$ and$ civil$ law,$ (2)$ states$ with$ a$ mixed$
tradition$of$common$law$and$either$customary$or$Islamic$law,$(3)$or$states$with$a$mixed$tradition$of$common$
law$and$combination$of$civil,$customary,$and$Islamic$law.$
18
$See,$also,$Simmons$and$Danner$(2010).$
24!
treaties!relative!to!domestic!statute!(Elkins,!Ginsburg,!and!Melton!2010).!!
We!additionally!consider! the!presence!and!strength!of! a!national! human! rights!institution!
(NHRI),!a!body!tasked!with!monitoring!states’!compliance!with!their!international!legal!obligations.
19
!
The!indicator!variable,!9$"+,2&D=BJ,!is!drawn!from!Conrad! et! al.! (2013).!It!is!a!count!variable!that!
represents!the!sum!of! eight!binary! variables,! which!includes!an!NHRI’s!ability! to! hear! complaints,!!
initiate!investigations,!bring!charges,!compel!testimony!and!documents,!visit!prisons!and!detention!
centers,!publish!findings!publicly,!and!levy!punishment.!
!
K+/)$)(!/&),*$)$3$)+,*&
!
In!terms!of!political!institutional!characteristics,!we!control!for!a!country’s!regime!type.!As!Hathaway!
(2003)!and!Neumayer!(2007)!indicate,!democracies!credibly!commit!to!international!human!rights!
treaties!because!they!possess!dependable!mechanisms!for!holding!government!agents!accountable,!
both!electorally!and!judicially.
20
!If!and!when!democratic!governments!violate!their!obligations!under!
international! human! rights! law,! they! are! more! likely! than! non-democratic! governments! to! be!
punished! for! non-compliance,! for! example,! through! electoral! defeat.! Thus,! we! can! expect! that!
democratic!states!are!only!likely!to!make!commitments!that!they!think!they!can!keep!and!will!attach!
reservations!to!provisions!they!do!not!think!they!can!keep.!However,!as!Simmons!(2009)!suggests,!
democracies! may! be! less! likely! to! enter! reservations! because! human! rights! treaties! more! closely!
reflect!their!preferences,! relative! to!the!preferences! of! non-democracies.!We!use! the! 0+/)$.>!score!
from!the!Polity!IV!project!to!measure!democracy!(Marshall!and!Jaggers,!2016).!The!0+/)$.>!score!is!
an! index! of! the! competitiveness! of! executive! recruitment,! openness! of! executive! recruitment,!
constraints!on! the! chief! executive,!regulation! of! participation,!and! the! extent! of!participation.! The!
19
$As$a$note,$the$simple$presence$and$operation$of$an$NHRI$is$highly$correlated$with$its$powers,$with$a$Pearson’s$
rho$of$0.96.$
20
$See$Hathaway’s$(2003)$predictions$of$treaty$commitment$by$human$rights$practice$and$by$regime.$See$also$
Chayes$and$ Chayes$ (1993),$particularly$ the$ discussion$ of$the$norm$of$pacta* sunt*servanda*(treaties$are$to$ be$
obeyed).$
25!
score!measures! democracy! on! a!-10!to!10!scale.!Higher!scores!indicate!higher!levels!of!democracy!
and!lower!scores!indicate!higher!levels!of!autocracy!(Marshall!and!Jaggers,!2016).!
!We! also!control! for! a! country’s! level! of! respect! for! basic! human! rights.! If! we! understand!
human!rights!respect!as!a!demonstration!of!both!states’!capacity!and!willingness!to!protect!human!
rights,!it!is!reasonable!to!expect!that!countries!with!higher!levels!of!respect!for!human!rights!will!be!
less!likely!to!reserve!against!treaty! obligations! because! such! countries! face!lower!compliance!and!
adjustment!costs!than!those!with!lower!levels!of!respect!for!basic!rights.!Yet,!as!discussed,!Neumayer!
(2007)! finds! the! oppositethat! countries! with! greater! respect! for! human! rights! enter! more!
reservations!than!countries!with!less!respect!for!human!rights.!This!is!consistent!with!the!credible!
commitments!thesis,!that!rights-respecting!states!only!assume!obligations!they!are!likely!to!maintain.!
We!use!Fariss’s!(2014)!latent!measure!of!basic!respect!for!human!rights.!
&
L(+,+7)(&!,'&'#7+2"!0%)(&(%!"!($#")*$)(*&&
!
Finally,!we!control!for!a!country’s!capacity!to!implement!treaty!compliance.!State!capacity!is!captured!
by! gross! domestic! product! per! capita! (logged)! and! the! size! of! the! population! (logged).! Poorer!
countries!and!countries!with!larger!populations!may!reserve!against!treaty!provisions!because!they!
foresee!greater!difficulty!with!compliance.!Both!indicators!are!drawn!from!the!World!Bank’s!World!
Development!Indicators.!!
!
Analysis((
!
For! the! analysis,! we! use! a! series! of! logit! regressions,! with! reservation! in! the! five-year! window!
centered!on!ratification!as!the!dependent!variable.!The!data!is!structured!as!a!cross-section!with!each!
observation!representing!a! country-obligation!pair.!That! is,! each!treaty!obligation! is! treated!as!an!
opportunity!to! reserve! for!each! ratifying! country.!We! are! therefore!able! to! model!the! reservation!
choice!for!each!ratifying!state!on!each!treaty!obligation.!We!cluster!standard!errors!by!country-treaty!
(for!instance,!Afghanistan-CAT,!Afghanistan-CEDAW,!and!so!on),!as!we!assume!independence!across!
26!
country-treaties! but! allow! for! correlation! within! country-treaties.
21
!Model! 1! presents! provision!
characteristics,!Model!2!adds!domestic!institutions,!Model!3!adds!economic!and!demographic!factors,!
and,!finally,!Model!4!adds!the!treaty!dummies.!
Figure! 7! summarizes! the! results! of! Model! 3,! re-estimated! with! standardized! variables! for!
ease!of!comparison.!The!figure!produces! the!estimated!effect!of!each!covariate!on!the!likelihood! of!
reservation.! Covariates! to! the! left! of! the! zero-line! are! negative! predictors! of! the! outcome,! while!
covariates! to! the! right! of! the! zero-line! are! positive! predictors! of! the! outcome.! Covariates! with!
confidence!intervals!that!cross!the!zero-line!are!not!statistically!significant.!Accordingly,!we!cannot!
rule!out!the!possibility!that!the!covariate’s!relationship!with!the!outcome!is!a!product!of!chance.!The!
coefficients!in!the!figure!are! standardized! for! the! non-dichotomous!covariates,!making!it!easier! to!
compare!the!relative!sizes!and!effects!of!the!covariates!on!the!outcome.!At!the!5!percent!error!level,!
C#7!,'),2!and!MCK&0#"&(!0)$!&:/+22#';&are!comparable,!positive,!statistically!significant!predictors!
of!reservation.!Likewise,!F+77+,&/!5!and!K+03/!$)+,&:/+22#';!are!comparable,!positive,!statistically!
significant!predictors!of!reservation.!For!its! part,! 9$"+,2& D=BJ!is!a!negative,!statistically!significant!
predictor!of! reservation.! For! all! other!variables,! we! are!unable! to!reject! the! null!hypothesis! of!no!
relationship!with!the!outcome.!
21
$In$the$appendix,$we$include$models$with$standard$errors$clustered$by$(1)$country,$(2)$treaty,$(3)$and$(multi-
way)$by$country,$country-treaty,$treaty,$and$provision.$Our$results$are$robust$to$these$specifications.$
27!
!
Figure!7:!Predicted!Effect!of!Variables!on!the!Likelihood!of!Reservation,!with!95!percent!CIs!
!
!
Our! main! hypothesis! is!that! states! will! be! more! likely! to! reserve! against! demanding!
obligations!(H1),!that!is,!obligations!that!are!strong,!precise,!and!stipulate!domestic!action.!As!seen!
in!Table!2,!we!find!consistent!support!for!Hypothesis!1.!Across!our!models,!we!find!that!provisions!
that! contain! demanding! obligations! are! positive! and! statistically! significant! predictors! of!
reservations! (p<0.01).! Holding! all! other! variables! constant,! the! marginal! effect! of! a! demanding!
obligation!on!reservation!is!approximately!a!70-percent!increase!in!the!likelihood!of!reservation.!This!
finding!confirms! the! usefulness!of!studying!heterogeneity!at!the!level!of!the!provision.!In!contrast,!
we! do! not! find! support! for! our! secondary! hypothesis,! that!obligations! that! are! subject! to! non-
derogation! clauses! would! be! more! subject! to! reservations! (H2).! These! obligations! are! negative!
predictors!of!reservations;!however,!none!of!the!effects!are!statistically!significant!at!a!conventional!
level.!
28!
"
Table!2:!Treaty!Reservations!at!the!Provision!Level!
"
*
!"#"$%&'()*+
*
TDU*
TPU*
TSU*
TEU*
,$)%(#()*+-.&$&/'"$(#'(/#*
3&2'06.09*
OVWMXX*
OVWMXX*
OVWSXX*
OVESXX*
*
TOVDPU*
TOVDWU*
TOVDWU*
TOVDPU*
1/0Y6&%/9'(./0*
YOVDL*
YOVPW*
YOVOL*
YOVWP*
*
TOVSBU*
TOVEMU*
TOVEFU*
TOVEBU*
0"1&2+3*#'('4'()*&2+-)*'$)2#*
=/22/0*Z'R*
*
DVWWXX*
DVSFXX*
DVDWXX*
*
*
TOVSWU*
TOVSWU*
TOVSBU*
[:6.A.'I*H06&5&06&0A&*
*
OVDO*
OVOS*
OVOP*
*
*
TOVDDU*
TOVDSU*
TOVDEU*
$%&'(.&@*<\:'I*/%*8:5&%./%*
*
YOVDW*
YOVDM*
YOVDB*
*
*
TOVSOU*
TOVSOU*
TOVSPU*
8(%/09*1]GH*
*
YOVDPXX*
YOVDEXX*
YOVDPXX*
*
*
TOVOSU*
TOVOSU*
TOVOSU*
,)2('(/&2+3*#'('4'()*&2+-)*'$)2#+
3&2/A%'A)*
*
OVOO*
YOVOS*
YOVOS*
*
*
TOVOPU*
TOVOPU*
TOVOPU*
^'@.A*G.9>(@*G&@5&A(&6*
*
OVOE*
OVDE*
OVDW*
*
*
TOVDEU*
TOVDSU*
TOVDSU*
5/)*)6(/+&*7+8"6)1$&9.(/+-)*'$)2#+
;3?*5&%*A'5.('*TI/99&6U*
*
*
OVPWXX*
OVSOXX*
*
*
*
TOVDOU*
TOVOBU*
?/5:I'(./0*TI/99&6U*
*
*
OVSLXX*
OVSBXX*
*
*
*
TOVOFU*
TOVOFU*
=/0@('0(*
YEVMMXX*
YEVMEXX*
YDPVEBXX*
YDSVDPXX*
*
TOVDDU*
TOVDFU*
TDVDLU*
TDVSDU*
$%&'()*3:22.&@**
1/*
1/*
1/*
_&@*
4,@&%-'(./0@*
LSDPD*
WPFWB*
EFMEO*
EFMEO*
8('06'%6*&%%/%@*.0*5'%&0(>&@&@V*+II*2/6&I@*%&5/%(*@('06'%6*&%%/%@*AI:@(&%&6*,)*A/:0(%)Y(%&'()V*
:+9;<=><?+@+9;<=<A?+@@+9;<=<>*
!
Next,! we! explore! theoretical! expectations! from! the! extant! literature,! captured! in! control!
variables! including!common! law,! judicial! independence,! the! legal! status! of! treaties! relative! to!
29!
domestic!statute,!and!the!strength!of!the!NHRI.!Across!the!models!in!which!domestic!legal!institutions!
are!included,!we!find!that!a!common!law!tradition!is!a!positive!and!statistically!significant!predictor!
of!reservation! (p<0.01).! This!suggests!that!states!with!common!law! traditions! do!in!fact!anticipate!
higher! compliance! costs! than! states! with! civil! law! or! mixed! traditions,! due! to! judges’! greater!
independence!and!their!power!to!interpret! and!apply!treaty!law.!The! marginal!effect!of!a!common!
law! system! is! even! larger! than! the! marginal! effect! of! a! demanding! obligation.! Holding! all! other!
variables! constant,! states! with! common! law! systems! are! almost!four! times! as! likely! to! enter!
reservations!compared!to!states!with!all!other!systems.!In!contrast,!we!do!not!observe!a!positive!and!
statistically! significant! relationship! between! judicial! independence! 0#"& *#!and! reservations.! In!
addition,!we!do!not!find!that!states!where!treaties!are!of!equal!or!superior!legal!status! to!domestic!
statute!are!more!likely!to!enter! reservations.! Interestingly,! we! observe! a! negative! and! statistically!
significant! relationship! between! strong! NHRIs! and! reservations! (p<0.01).! It! is! likely! that! the!
presence,!functioning,!and!strength!of!an!NRHI!is!itself!a!credible!commitment!to!respect!for!human!
rights,!in!particular!those!enshrined!in!international!legal!agreements,!such!that!those!countries!that!
have! established!such! an! institution! are! unlikely! to! modulate! their! treaty! obligations! using!
reservations.!
Regarding! political! institutional! control! variables,! democracies! are! neither! more! nor! less!
likely!to!reserve!against!obligations.!This!finding!contrasts!with!the!existing!scholarship.!Neumayer!
(2007)!finds!that!democracies!are!7+"#&/)8#/.!to!enter!RUDs!than!non-democracies,!while!Simmons!
(2009)!finds! that!democracies!are!/#**&/)8#/.!to!enter!RUDs.!There!are!a!few!potential! reasons!why!
our! results! differ! from! prior! studies! that! are! worth! noting.! First,! in! our! analysis,! we! distinguish!
reservations!from!understandings!and! declarations,! as! their! respective!meanings!and!legal!effects!
are!different!for!states.!Second,!the!country-provision!is!our!unit!of!analysis,! whereas!the!previous!
two! studies! have! used! the! country! as! the! unit! of! analysis.! Relatedly,! the! dependent! variable,!
reservation,!is!measured! against! individual!obligations;!it! is! not!a!simple!count! of! all!reservations!
30!
entered! against! a! given!treaty.! Given! these! innovations,! it! is! not! surprising! that! the! effect! of!
democracy!on!reservation!differs!in!this!study!from!previous!studies.!
Next,!we!do! not! observe!a! stable! relationship!between! respect! for! basic!human!rights! and!
reservations.! This! finding! also! contrasts! with! the! existing! scholarship.! As! discussed,! Neumayer!
(2007)!finds!that!countries!with!greater!respect!for!human!rights!submit!more!RUDs!than!countries!
with!less! respect!for!human!rights!because!the!former!are!more!likely!to! credibly!commit!than!the!
latter.!Yet,!it!is!also!reasonable!to!expect!that!countries!with!higher!levels!of!respect!for!human!rights!
are!less!likely!to!reserve!against!treaty!obligations.!While!we!cannot!infer!too!much!from!a!noisy!null!
result!like!the!one!we!observe,!it!could!be!that!both!logics!holdbetter!human!rights!respect!means!
more!credible!commitment!and!lower!adjustment!costs!and!compliance!costs.!
Finally,!among!the!economic!and!demographic!controls,!we!find!that!both!GDP!per!capita!and!
population! are! positive! and! statistically! significant! predictors! of! reservation.! While! wealthier!
countries!might!experience!lower!adjustment!costs!with!respect!to!their!legal!commitments,!making!
reservations!less!likely,!these!same!countries!also!have!the!resources!to!fund!a!larger,!more-expert!
delegation! that! can! craft! reservations,! making! reservations! more! likely.! Our! positive! finding! for!
population!comports! with! the! conventional! wisdom!that! states! that! are! duty-bearers!to! a! greater!
number!of!people!face!higher!adjustment!costs.!They!are,!thus,!more!likely!to!enter!reservations.!
!
Conclusion((
!
Though!scholarship!has!developed!a!sophisticated!understanding!of!human!rights!treaty!ratification!
and!compliance,!it!has!devoted!far!less!attention!to!a!third!tool!with!which!states!can!manage!human!
rights!obligations! enshrined! in!treaties:! reservations.! States! use! reservations! to! modify! or! avoid!
treaty!obligations.!By!analyzing!reservation!behavior,!we!shed!light!on!the!actual!commitments!that!
states! make.! Moreover,! by! disaggregating! treaties! into! their! basic! building! blocks,! individual!
provisions,!we!are!able!to!show!that!states!take!into!account!the!nature!of!particular!obligations!when!
31!
they!ratify.!!!
We! theorized! that! demanding! obligations!enhance! the! likelihood! of! reservation.! In! the!
regression!analysis,!we!found!support!for!our!expectations!about!provisions!that!are!strong,!precise!
and! stipulate! domestic! action.! Our! secondary! hypothesis,! regarding! provisions! subject! to! non-
derogation!clauses,!was!not!supported.!There!are!several!reasons!why!states!may!not!be!more!likely!
to!reserve!against!obligations!that!are!subject!to!a!non-derogation!clause.!First,!only!21!obligations
of!872!obligations!in!our!dataare!subject!to!a!non-derogation!clause.!Thus,!there!may!simply!be!too!
few! opportunities! for! states! to! reserve! against! such! obligations! and,! accordingly,! too! few!
observations! for! us! to! detect! a! statistically! significant! relationship.! Second,! states! may! make!
reservation!decisions!based!on!what&+1/)2!$)+,*&!"#&!((#0$!1/#&$+&$%#7&),&2#,#"!/!and!not!on!the!basis!
of!what! obligations! they! can! and!cannot! suspend! should!they! face!a! political! crisis! or! emergency.!
Third,!many!non-derogation!clauses!cover!@3*&(+2#,*,!or!peremptory!norms,!such!as!the!prohibition!
of!torture!at!all!times!and!in!all!places.!If!a!state!cannot!commit!to!such!obligations,!it!may!simply!not!
ratify! rather! than! ratify! with! reservation.! Relatedly,! entering! reservations! against! obligations!
covered!by!a!non-derogation!clause!may!be!interpreted!as!contravening!the!object!and!purpose!of!a!
treaty,!making!reservations!unacceptable,!per!the!Vienna!Convention,!and!opening!up!to!scrutiny!and!
sanction!states!that!attempt!to!enter!them.!
In! contrast! to! previous! studies,! with! the! exception! of! the! common! law,! we!did! not! find! a!
consistent!relationship!between!domestic!institutions!and!reservations.!States!with!higher!levels!of!
judicial!independence!may!not!be!more!likely!to!enter!reservations!against!treaty!obligations!because!
courts’&!1)/)$.!to!apply!a!horizontal!check!on!the!executive!and!the!legislature!may!be!less!important!
than!courts’&1!*)*!for!doing!so;!that!is,!the!extent!to!which!obligations!to!which!a!state!has!committed!
itself! are! demanding.! Our! results! suggest! that! the! mere! fact! of! judicial! independence!is! not!
determining,!while!the!extent!to!which!obligations!are!demanding!is.!
Lastly,!states!where!the!legal!status!of!treaties!is!equal!or!superior!to!domestic!statute!may!
32!
not!be! more! likely!to! enter! reservations!because,! as!we! argue,! there!is! 4!")!$)+,& !("+**&0"+4)*)+,*&
5)$%),&!&*),2/#&$"#!$..!Accordingly,!should!a! country! ratify!or! accede!to!a!treaty,!its!status!vis-à-vis!
domestic! laws! may! matter! less! than! the! specific! actions! and! behaviors! that! the! treaty! obliges! or!
prohibits.!Put!another!way,!the!legal!status!of!treaties!may!be!secondary!to!states’!ability!to!modulate!
obligations!that!would,!at!a!later!date,!be!evaluated!against!domestic!statute.!
Collectively,!the!results!suggest!that!the!textual!content!of!specific!provisionsthe!building!
blocks! of! human! rights! treatiesmatters! for! how! states! calibrate! their! human! rights! treaty!
commitments!through! reservations.! Our!analysis! thus! produces! a! new! finding:! that! states! take!
seriously! their! treaty! obligations! at! the!level! of!individual! provisions.! States! are! more! likely! to!
exclude!or!alter!the!legal!effect!of!obligations!that!are!strong,!precise,!and!stipulate!domestic!action.!
As!we!conclude,!it!is!important!to!note!that,!though!our!analysis!focuses!on!empirical!questions,!a!key!
normative! concern! regarding! human! rights! treaty! reservations! is! whether! they! undermine! the!
universality!of!human!rights!norms.!What!does!it!mean!for!the!global!human!rights!regime!if!states!
can!weaken!or!opt!out!of!some!obligations,!which!are!supposed!to!apply!to!all!states!and!protect!all!
people!at!all!times?!That!question!remains!an!important!issue!for!further!exploration.!!
( (
33!
References(
(
Abbott,! Kenneth! W.,! and! Duncan! Snidal.! 2000.! “Hard! and! Soft! Law! in! International! Governance.”!
J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,&54(3):!42156.!!
!
Abbott,! Kenneth! W.,! Robert! O.! Keohane,! Andrew! Moravcsik,! Anne-Marie! Slaughter,! and! Duncan!
Snidal.!2000.!The!Concept!of!Legalization.”!J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!54(3):!401-19.!
!
Baylis,! Elena! A.! 1999.! “General! Comment! 24:! Confronting! the! Problem! of! Reservations! to! Human!
Rights!Treaties.”!P#"8#/#.&G+3",!/&+-&J,$#",!$)+,!/&E!5!17:!277329.!!
!
Bradley,!Curtis! A.,!and! Jack!L.! Goldsmith.! 2000.!“Treaties,! human!rights,! and! conditional!consent.”!
Q,)4#"*)$.&+-&K#,,*./4!,)!&E!5&B#4)#5!149(2):!399468.!!
!
Chayes,! Abram,! and! Antonia! Handler! Chayes.! 1993.! “On! Compliance.”! J,$#",!$)+,!/& N"2!,)O!$)+,!
47(2):!175205.!!
!
Checkel,!Jeffery.!2001.!‘‘Why!Comply?!Social!Learning!and!European!Identity!Change.’’!J,$#",!$)+,!/&
N"2!,)O!$)+,!55!(3):!535588.!!
!
Clark,! Belinda.! 1991.! “The! Vienna! Convention! Reservations! Regime! and! the! Convention! on!
Discrimination!Against!Women.”!R7#")(!,&G+3",!/&+-&J,$#",!$)+,!/!Law!85(2):!281321.!!
!
Conrad,!Courtney!R.,!Jacqueline!H.R.!DeMeritt,!Will!H.!Moore,!and!Ryan!M.!Welch.!“NHRI!Data!Project:!
Organizational!Data!User’s!Guide.”!D!$)+,!/&=37!,&B)2%$*&J,*$)$3$)+,*&C!$!&K"+@#($<&
!
Coppedge,!Michael,!John!Gerring,!Carl!Henrik!Knutsen,!Staffan!I.!Lindberg,!Svend-Erik!Skaaning,!Jan!
Teorell,!David!Altman,!Michael!Bernhard,!M.!Steven!Fish,!Agnes!Cornell,!Sirianne!Dahlum,!Haakon!
Gjerløw,! Adam! Glynn,! Allen! Hicken,! Joshua! Krusell,! Anna! Lührmann,! Kyle! L.! Marquardt,! Kelly!
McMann,! Valeriya! Mechkova,! Juraj! Medzihorsky,! Moa! Olin,! Pamela! Paxton,! Daniel! Pemstein,!
Josefine! Pernes,! Johannes! von! Römer,! Brigitte! Seim,! Rachel! Sigman,! Jeffrey! Staton,! Natalia!
Stepanova,!Aksel! Sundström,!Eitan!Tzelgov,!Yi-ting!Wang,!Tore! Wig,!Steven!Wilson,!and!Daniel!
Ziblatt.!2018.!“V-Dem!Country-Year!Dataset!v8.”!S!")#$)#*&+-&C#7+("!(.&:SAC#7;&K"+@#($.!
!
Dancy,!Geoff,! and! Kathryn!Sikkink.! 2011.! “Ratification!and! Human! Rights!Prosecutions:! Toward! A!
Transnational!Theory!of!Treaty!Compliance.”!D#5&T+"8&Q,)4#"*)$.&G+3",!/&+-&J,$#",!$)+,!/&E!5&U&
K+/)(.!44:!751-90.!!
!
Downs,!George,!David!Rocke,!and! Peter! Barsoom.! 1996.! Is!the!Good!News!About!Compliance!Good!
News!About!Cooperation?!J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!50(3):!379406.!!
!
Elkins,! Zachary,! Tom! Ginsburg,! and! James! Melton.! 2010.! “Comparative! Constitutions! Project:!!
Characteristics!of!National!Constitutions.”!Accessed!June!30,!2020.!!
URL:!comparativeconstitutionsproject.org.!
!
Fariss,! Christopher! J.! 2014.! “Respect! for! Human! Rights! Has! Improved! Over! Time:! Modeling! the!
Changing!Standard!of!Accountability.”!R7#")(!,&K+/)$)(!/&9()#,(#&B#4)#5!108(2):!297318.!!
!
34!
Gilligan,! Michael! J.! 2004.! “Is! There! a! Broader-Deeper! Trade-Off! in! International! Multilateral!
Agreements?”!J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!58(3):!45984.!!
!
Goldstein,!Judith,!Miles!Kahler,!Robert!O.!Keohane,!and!Anne-Marie!Slaughter.!2000.!Introduction:!
Legalization!and!world!politics.”!J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!54(3):!385-99.!
!
Goodliffe,! Jay,! and! Darren! G! Hawkins.! 2006.! “Explaining! commitment:! States! and! the! convention!
against!torture.”!H%#&G+3",!/&+-&K+/)$)(*!68(2):!35871.!!
!
Hafner-Burton,!Emilie! M.,!and! Kiyoteru!Tsutsui.!2005.! “Human! Rights!in! a! Globalizing!World:! The!
Paradox!of!Empty!Promises.”!R7#")(!,&G+3",!/&+-&9+()+/+2.!110(5):!13731411.!!
!
Hathaway,!Oona!A.!2003.!“The!cost!of!commitment.”!9$!,-+"'&E!5&B#4)#5&55(5):!182162.!!
!
Henkin,!Louis.!1995.!‘‘US!Ratification!of!Human!Rights!Conventions:!The!Ghost!of!Senator!Bricker.’’!
R7#")(!,&G+3",!/&+-&J,$#",!$)+,!/&E!5!89!(2):!341-50.!!
!
Hill,! Daniel! W.! Jr.! 2016.! Avoiding! Obligation:! Reservations! to! Human! Rights! Treaties.”! G+3",!/& +-&
F+,-/)($&B#*+/3$)+,!60!(6):112958.!!
!
JuriGlobe.!2010.!Legal!Systems!Classification.!G3")M/+1#&V+"/'&E#2!/&9.*$#7*&B#*#!"(%&M"+30<!!
!
Koremenos,! Barbara.! 2001.! Loosening! the! Ties! that! Bind:! A! Learning! Model! of! Agreement!
Flexibility.”!J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!55(2):!289-325.!
!
Koremenos,! Barbara.! 2016.! H%#& F+,$),#,$& +-& J,$#",!$)+,!/& E!5?& LW0/!),),2& R2"##7#,$& C#*)2,<!
Cambridge:!Cambridge!University!Press.!!
!
Lijnzaad,!Liesbeth.!1995.!B#*#"4!$)+,*&$+&QDA=37!,&B)2%$*&H"#!$)#*?&B!$)-.&!,'&B3),X!The!Hague,!the!
Netherlands:!Martinus!Nijhoff!Publishers.!!
!
Marshall,! Monty! G.,! Gurr! Ted! R.! and! Keith! Jaggers.! 2016.! “Polity! IV! Project.! Political! Regime!
Characteristics!and!Transitions,!18002015.!Dataset!Users’!Manual.”!F#,$#"&-+"&9.*$#7)(&K#!(#<&&
!
McKibben,!Heather!Elko,!and!Shaina!D.!Western.!2020.!“‘Reserved!Ratification’:!An!Analysis!of!States’!
Entry! of! Reservations! Upon! Ratification! of! Human! Rights! Treaties.”!P")$)*%& G+3",!/& +-&K+/)$)(!/&
9()#,(#!50(2):!687-712.!
!
Mulesky,! Suzie,! Wayne! Sandholtz,! and! Kelebogile! Zvobgo.! 2020.! “Do! Human! Rights! Treaty!
Obligations!Matter!for!Ratification?”!Q,031/)*%#'&7!,3*(")0$<!
!
Neumayer,!Eric.!2007.!“Qualified!Ratification:!Explaining!Reservations!to!International!Human!Rights!
Treaties.”!H%#&G+3",!/&+-&E#2!/&9$3')#*!36(2):!397429.!!
!
Redgwell,! Catherine! J.! 1997.! ‘‘Reservations! to! Treaties! and! Human! Rights! Committee! General!
Comment!No.!24!(52).’’!J,$#",!$)+,!/&!,'&F+70!"!$)4#&E!5&Y3!"$#"/.!46!(2):!390-412.!!
!
Sandholtz,!Wayne.!2017.!“Domestic!Law!and!Human!Rights!Treaty!Commitments:!The! Convention!
Against!Torture.”!G+3",!/&+-&=37!,&B)2%$*&16(1):!2543.!!
!
35!
Schabas,!William.!1995.!“Reservations!to!Human!Rights!Treaties:!Time!for!Innovation!and!Reform.”!
F!,!')!,&T#!"1++8&+-&J,$#",!$)+,!/&E!5&32:!3981.!!
!
Schabas,!William.!1996.!‘‘Reservations!to!the!Convention!on!the!Rights!of!the!Child.’’!=37!,&B)2%$*&
Y3!"$#"/.&18(2):!472-91.!
!!
Sikkink,! Kathryn.! 2011.! H%#& G3*$)(#& F!*(!'#?& =+5& =37!,& B)2%$*& K"+*#(3$)+,*& !"#& F%!,2),2& V+"/'&
K+/)$)(*<&New!York,!NY:!WW!Norton!&!Company.!!
&
Simmons,! Beth! A.! 2009.! Z+1)/)O),2& [+"& =37!,& B)2%$*?& J,$#",!$)+,!/& E!5& ),& C+7#*$)(& K+/)$)(*<&&
Cambridge:!Cambridge!University!Press.!&
!
Simmons,!Beth!A.!and!Allison!Danner.!2010.!“Credible!Commitments!and!the!International!Criminal!
Court<&J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!64(2):!22556.!!
!
Powell,!Emilia!Justyna,!and!Jeffrey!K.!Staton.!2009.!Domestic!Judicial!Institutions!and!Human!Rights!
Treaty!Violation.”!J,$#",!$)+,!/&9$3')#*&Y3!"$#"/.!53(1):!149-74.!
!
United!Nations.!2012.!H"#!$.&=!,'1++8<&New!York:!United!Nations.!!
!
Vienna!Convention!on!the!Law!of!Treaties.!1969.!S)#,,!&F+,4#,$)+,&+,&$%#&E!5&+-&H"#!$)#*<!New!York:!
United!Nations.!!
!
von!Stein,!Jana.!2016.!Making!Promises,!Keeping!Promises:!Democracy,!Ratification!and!Compliance!
in!International!Human!Rights!Law.”!P")$)*%&G+3",!/&+-&K+/)$)(!/&9()#,(#!46(3):!655-79.!
!
Vreeland,!James.!2008.!Political!Institutions!and!Human!Rights:!Why!Dictatorships!Enter!into!the!!
!United!Nations!Convention!against!Torture.”!J,$#",!$)+,!/&N"2!,)O!$)+,!62(1):!65-101.!
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Why do some human rights treaties receive rapid and near universal commitment from states while others take decades for the majority of states to ratify? We analyze new data that code every provision of ten global human rights treaties for the strength and precision of the obligations they contain. We classify obligations that are strong, precise, and that require domestic action as “demanding.” We hypothesize that treaties containing more of these demanding obligations would be seen as more costly to ratify because they imply potentially greater policy adaptation or compliance costs. Event history analyses are consistent with that hypothesis. The addition of 15 demanding treaty obligations decreases the likelihood of ratification by over 20 percent, similar to the effect of moving from democracy to autocracy. This effect is consistent when controlling for various treaty, state, and global level factors that may also influence a state’s decision to ratify.
Article
Full-text available
Many countries have ratified both universal and regional human rights treaties. But does ratification matter? Do state parties to international human rights treaties improve their human rights record after ratification? This paper attempts to improve on the two existing studies. It finds, contrary to the pessimistic picture painted by the existing evidence, that human rights treaty ratification is often associated with an improvement in respect for human rights. However, the answer to the question raised is complex and it depends on which treaty and which aspect of human rights one looks at as well as whether or not other explanatory variables, including the lagged dependent variable, are included.
Book
Every year, states negotiate, conclude, sign, and give effect to hundreds of new international agreements. Koremenos argues that the detailed design provisions of such agreements matter for phenomena that scholars, policymakers, and the public care about: when and how international cooperation occurs and is maintained. Theoretically, Koremenos develops hypotheses regarding how cooperation problems like incentives to cheat can be confronted and moderated through law's detailed design provisions. Empirically, she exploits her data set composed of a random sample of international agreements in economics, the environment, human rights and security. Her theory and testing lead to a consequential discovery: considering the vagaries of international politics, international cooperation looks more law-like than anarchical, with the detailed provisions of international law chosen in ways that increase the prospects and robustness of cooperation. This nuanced and sophisticated 'continent of international law' can speak to scholars in any discipline where institutions, and thus institutional design, matter. Designed for a broad audience but with rigorous theoretical underpinnings, so international law and relations scholars without a mathematical background will understand the intuition of all the hypotheses Transcends issue area divides typical in this type of scholarship and will therefore appeal to both specialists and generalists and show how various issue and sub-issue areas are alike and different Combines multiple methods and contains case studies for those who find it easiest to understand mechanisms through real-life examples but also features large-n testing that can confirm the theory.
Article
Governing elites often ratify human rights treaties, even when their policies do not align with those treaties’ obligations. This article argues that this can be explained by the fact that executives anticipate the potential challenges these treaties could raise vis-à-vis their domestic policies and enter different types of reservations when they ratify to head them off. The types of reservations they use depend on key characteristics of the executive’s policies and practices, as well as its relationship with the legislative and judicial branches. Domestic actors can raise different types of challenges against the executive depending on variations in these key factors. The types of reservations executives use will therefore vary depending on the specific challenges ratification raises for them. Using an original dataset of the reservations states entered on human rights treaties registered with the United Nations, and employing an event history analysis, this study shows that the particular challenges treaties present for executives in different types of states help explain variation in how they use reservations when they ratify human rights treaties.
Article
• case studies of Germany, Spain, Japan and India, which provide a new perspective on comparative analysis of Europe and Asia
Book
This volume argues that international human rights law has made a positive contribution to the realization of human rights in much of the world. Although governments sometimes ratify human rights treaties, gambling that they will experience little pressure to comply with them, this is not typically the case. Focusing on rights stakeholders rather than the United Nations or state pressure, Beth Simmons demonstrates through a combination of statistical analyses and case studies that the ratification of treaties leads to better rights practices on average. By several measures, civil and political rights, women’s rights, a right not to be tortured in government detention, and children’s rights improve, especially in the very large heterogeneous set of countries that are neither stable autocracies nor stable democracies. Simmons argues that international human rights law should get more practical and rhetorical support from the international community as a supplement to broader efforts to address conflict, development, and democratization.