Enforcing Your Own Human Rights? The Role of Social Norms in Compliance with Human Rights Treaties

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Enforcing Your Own Human Rights? The Role of Social Norms in Compliance with Human Rights Treaties


  • Violet Benneker Institute of Political Science, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Klarita Gërxhani Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Italy
  • Stephanie Steinmetz Institute for Social Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland


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Abstract:  Although scholars are increasingly able to explain why states (do not) comply with human rights treaties, the role of social norms in compliance has been neglected. This is remarkable because human rights often directly address social norms. Our study aims to contribute to the existing literature by providing quantitative and qualitative evidence on the relationship between citizens’ social norms and compliance with human rights treaties. The quantitative results provide strong support for such a relationship. The findings from the additional qualitative analysis suggest that bargaining over (and thus changing) social norms is an important process through which compliance with human rights can be influenced.

Keywords:  bargaining approach; compliance; human rights; human rights treaties; social norms

Published:   20 March 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i1.2166


© Violet Benneker, Klarita Gërxhani, Stephanie Steinmetz. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.