Why Governments Cede Sovereignty: Evidence From Regional Human Rights Courts

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Authors Daniel W. Hill
Paper Category
Paper Abstract This study examines a government’s decision to cede authority over fundamental questions of policy to international organizations. Explanations for delegation to international institutions focus on the benefits of “locking in” domestic political institutions and signaling intentions to the public. This line of reasoning suggests that partly democratic and democratizing governments have the strongest incentive to participate in international human rights institutions. I evaluate this claim by analyzing patterns of participation in two regional human rights courts: the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The decision to join a regional court is a more valid indicator of delegation than those used in previous empirical studies and to date has not been examined in systematic fashion. I find strong evidence in support of the claim that governments grant authority to institutions to credibly commit to maintaining democracy.
Date of publication 2016
Code Programming Language R

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