Not Just Window Dressing
THE SOURCE: “Human Rights as Myth and Ceremony? Re-evaluating the Effectiveness of Human Rights Treaties, 1981–2007” by Wade M. Cole, in American Journal of Sociology, Jan. 2012.
Skeptics scorn the treaties and agreements that wend their way through the United Nations as the window dressing of international relations. But Wade M. Cole argues that these derided measures are more effective than some might think.
The University of Utah sociologist studied the impact in 148 countries of four UN treaties enacted from 1981 to 2007 pertaining to torture, civil liberties and political empowerment, women’s rights, and racial discrimination. Departing from the approach of previous researchers, Cole assembled a nuanced portrait of each country’s commitment. Did it ratify or only sign the measure? (A signature is a weaker commitment and not legally binding.) Did it append any qualifications or reservations? Did it couple its ratification with pledges of enhanced monitoring and enforcement?
If you want ...
Research, browse, and discover more than 35 years of articles, essays, and reviews by preeminent scholars and writers. Our searchable archive of back issues is free for WQ subscribers.