Baker Scholar Projects

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2023


The core international human rights treaties from the United Nations have been signed and ratified by varying groups of states, and much of previous research has been dominated by a desire to explain ratification of international human rights law (IHRL) through the democratic lock-in effect and states’ economic and political ties to one another. In this paper, I seek to understand when states are ratifying IHRL, testing whether the presence of elections influences commitment to three of the nine core international human rights treaties: the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICMW), the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (CPED), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I find that elections do not influence the likelihood of states ratifying IHRL but that democracy is somewhat influential to explaining ratification and signature for the more recent treaties in CPED and CRPD. This work calls into question our understanding of the relationship between democracy and IHRL in the 21st century and contributes to the study of electoral proximity and international cooperation.

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