Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Kirk A. Randazzo

Abstract

This dissertation addresses the question: under what conditions do regional and national high courts matter in the promotion and domestic incorporation of international human rights law? In order to address this question, I argue that domestic high courts can proactively adopt international human rights laws through their interpretation of the law and resulting case decisions. Regional courts promote international law, particularly through their requirement of domestic legal reforms in their judgments. I examine the extent of state compliance with these requirements, where compliance consists of these changes in the domestic legal system thereby institutionalizing international laws and transforming them into enforceable law. These arguments are evaluated through original data consisting of the universe of compliance records of Latin America to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from 2001-2015 and Latin American high court cases. I find that domestic high courts successfully and unilaterally institutionalize international human rights laws and a much higher compliance rate with even such stringent regional court requirements as domestic legal reform. The influence of regional and national high courts is much higher then traditional scholarship credits.

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