Why do states ratify human rights treaties in transitioning societies?

From Northern Ireland to Sierra Leone, Bosnia-Herzegovina to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan to Nepal, the transition from war to peace has historically presented an opportunity for the adoption of international human rights treaties (IHRT). This paper examines the relationship between peace agreements and treaty ratification by exploring when, how and why peace negotiations and the agreements that result from them might affect states’ decisions to adopt IHRT. Identifying peace agreements and the processes that produce them as critical junctures provides an opportunity to observe how a range of actors, for different reasons and utilising different strategies, can contribute to a state’s decision to ratify a human rights treaty. The paper demonstrates that in societies attempting to transition from conflict to peace, ratification is explained not by any one theory or at the behest of any particular actor. Rather, it occurs because of a multitude of factors and efforts by various constituents that converge to shape a state’s decision to commit to international human rights law during transitions from conflict to peace.

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