Sanctions, Social Learning and Institutions: Explaining State Compliance with the Norms of the European Human Rights Regime

Why do states comply with international norms? This paper draws together agency-focused regime literature and constructivist accounts of socialization to give a fuller picture of compliance, taking as case study the European human rights regime.

ARENA Working Paper 11/1999 (html)

Jeffrey T. Checkel

The regime literature on compliance and constructivist work on socialization, while differing widely in ontological assumptions and methodologies, share a common interest in explaining why agents come to abide by the norms embedded in regimes and international institutions. While the regime work has largely neglected the social context of compliance, constructivist research has been remiss in noting the role played by strategic agency in its own analyses. This state of affairs suggests that both literatures might benefit from greater dialogue; my paper is a step in this direction. Specifically, I suggest how a constructivist focus on processes of persuasion and social learning -- that is, instances where interaction cannot be reduced to strategic exchange among self-interested actors -- can broaden our understanding of the mechanisms through which compliance occurs. The arguments are illustrated by exploring why states comply with norms promoted by the European human rights regime.

Tags: national interest, fundamental/human rights, international regimes, socialization
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM