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Motivation: can democracy increase the effectiveness of a human rights convention?

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A Panel Analysis on the Effects of the Women´s Convention -Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Seo-Young Cho (George-August University of Göttingen). Motivation: can democracy increase the effectiveness of a human rights convention?.

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A Panel Analysis on the Effects of the Women´s Convention-Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)Seo-Young Cho (George-August University of Göttingen)

IPES 2009

motivation can democracy increase the effectiveness of a human rights convention
Motivation: can democracy increase the effectiveness of a human rights convention?
  • Recurring question in political economy:
  • Is an international convention on human rights effective?
  • ‘Cheap talk’ (Downs et. al., IO 1996) vs. ‘spread of international norm’ (Koh, ILJ 1998)
  • No consensus in both theoretical and empirical discussions
  • Redirecting the question:

In which condition can

an international human rights treaty be effective?

 Focus on democracy as a crucial institutional condition

IPES 2009

studies on democracy human rights and treaties
Studies on democracy, human rights and treaties
  • Democracy promotes the human rights practice of a country
  • Poe, Tate and Keith (ISQ 1999), Simmons (RPS 1998), Hafner-Burton and Tsutsui (AJS 2005)
  • Respect for law, justice, judicial independence and civil participation
  • Does democracy enhance the effectiveness of the international legal mechanism of human rights norms?
  • Only one empirical study: Neumayer (JCR 2005)
  • His findings: positive interaction effect bet. the membership of HR treaties (ICCP, Torture, other regional conventions) and democracy on HR practice

IPES 2009

cedaw 1981 un
CEDAW (1981, UN)
  • The prime ‘Women’s Convention’
  • Comprehensive but a special focus on women’s social rights article 16 – core article

article 5 calling for changes in social and cultural patterns

  • Innovative approaches attempting to change practice of family and social matters (deeply rooted and habituated in culture, Simmons 2004)
  • Universal agreement (186 members)

however, a large number of reservations (1/3 of members have reservations), in par. to the core articles (arc. 2 and 16, 1/5 of members)

IPES 2009

does the cedaw improve women s rights
Does the CEDAW improve women’s rights?

Women’s Social Rights

CIRI Women’s Rights Index

(126 countries, 1981-2005)

Commitments to the CEDAW

weighted scale of reservations

(126 countries, 1981-2005)

IPES 2009

hypotheses and focus of analysis
Hypotheses and Focus of Analysis

Hypothesis 1

The effects of the CEDAW on women’s rights are enhanced if combined with a higher level of democracy

Hypothesis 2

The effects of the CEDAW are most positively pronounced in the dimension of women’s social rights

Focus of Analysis

  • Estimation and interpretation of the interaction term – CEDAW and democracy – in a non-linear model
  • Reverse-causality issue: employing two exogenous instrumental variables, commitments to the Torture Convention (CAT) and Genocide Convention (CPPCG)

IPES 2009

measuring commitments to the cedaw
Measuring commitments to the CEDAW
  • Taking into account the large amount of reservations, membership alone does not reflect true commitments
  • Modification of Landman’s (2005) weighted scale of reservations
  • Special weights given to the core articles, arc. 2 and arc. 16

0: No signatory

1: Signed but not ratified

2: Ratified but with reservations to arc. 2 and/or 16 (incl. general reservations based on conflicts with religious or domestic law)

3: Ratified but with reservations to other articles than 2 and 16

4: Full ratification without reservations

IPES 2009

data and estimation method
Data and Estimation Method
  • Dependent variable: women’s social, political and economic rights, CIRI Human Rights Index
  • Independent variable of the main interest:

- commitments to the CEDAW, proxied by reservations

- interaction bet. CEDAW and democracy (PolityIV)

  • Selection of control variables: one-year lagged dependent variable, democracy, the number of HR NGOs, regime durability, external conflict, internal conflict, (log) population sizes, (log) per capita income and trade openness

(Neumayer, JCR 2005; Hafner-Burton and Tsutsui, AJS 2005)

  • Time, religion and regions are controlled

IPES 2009

women s rights ordered probit 1981 2005 126 countries
Women’s rights, ordered probit, 1981-2005, 126 countries
  • Positive effect on women’s social rights conditional to democracy
  • Positive effect of the CEDAW on political rights has to be interpreted with a caution, given the negative effect of the interaction term
  • Marginal effects of the interaction term calculated at the mean
  • Validity of the instruments: exogeneity (Hansen J test, P-value 0.33- 0.90)

IPES 2009

effectiveness of the cedaw and the level of democracy
Effectiveness of the CEDAW and the level of democracy

The effect becomes significant after the median score 0

Dependent var:

women’s social rights

IPES 2009

conclusion
Conclusion
  • Effectiveness of the CEDAW conditional on democracy
  • Effects differ across multi-dimensions of women’s rights the CEDAW advocates and the positive impact is confirmed for women’s social rights with the conditionality, the level of democracy

IPES 2009

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