Winning Proposal to the Organski Scholar's Fund: 2007 Competition

Project Title: Who Creates and Supports International Human Rights Agreements (and Why?)

Faculty Sponsor: Jana von Stein

Graduate Student: Michelle Allendoerfer

Project Description

Over the past 60 years, the United Nations and other international organizations have created a large body of international human rights agreements (HRAs). These include (but are not limited to) the elimination of torture, civil and political rights, women’s equality, and economic and social rights. Historically, HRAs have received little attention in the World Politics literature. In recent years, however, scholars have begun to examine this area of international law, focusing primarily on the effectiveness of HRAs. In general, the literature takes HRAs as ‘given’: given the existence of an HRA, who commits? Who complies and why? We believe the existing literature has overlooked some important puzzles about the origins of these agreements. Who creates HRAs and why? It is commonly thought that the staunchest supporters of HRAs are small, advanced democracies with wealthy citizens. Why do these states push for the creation of these agreements?