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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Structural change and human rights norms : identity-based socialization processes in the international system Dragojlovic, Nicolas Isak


This thesis examines the international norms banning torture and the death penalty, codified in the Convention against Torture and Cruel and Unusual Punishment and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. It seeks to explain the differing systemic outcomes experienced by the two norms: why the Convention against Torture is adhered to by most of the state system, while the Second Optional Protocol remains largely a European institution. The operating hypothesis emerges from the recent literature on norms in international relations, and argues that while the norm against torture has undergone a "norm cascade" and initiated a process of socialization in the international system, the norm abolishing the death penalty remains in the "norm emergence" phase, where countries adopt it only as a result of domestic processes. A quantitative analysis is used to test the empirical plausibility of the hypothesis. Binary time-series cross-section (BTSCS) data with a country-year unit of analysis are analyzed using logit regression, with temporal dependence accounted for by a series of temporal dummy variables. A number of identical models are estimated for both norms, comparing the relative significance of the variables in each case. The results appear to support the hypothesis that accession to the Convention against Torture is much more associated with systemic socialization variables than accession to the Second Optional Protocol, which is primarily associated with domestic and regional variables. This points to the relevance of the norm "life-cycle" theoretical framework to the evolution of the norms examined in the thesis, and suggests that it is a generalizable social dynamic.

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