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The design of national human rights institutions: global patterns of institutional diffusion and strength

Lacatus, Corina (2016) The design of national human rights institutions: global patterns of institutional diffusion and strength. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.5u74s7iv6zqv

Abstract

“The Design of National Human Rights Institutions: Global Patterns of Diffusion and Strength” explores patterns of institutional design in the case of national human rights institutions (i.e. ombudsman, national human rights commission), seeking to understand why countries establish these bodies and give them certain mandated powers as reflected in their institutional design. The project answers two main questions about the global variation of institutional strength as a function of the design of these institutions: (1) What are the main global patterns of the institutional design of national human rights institutions? and (2) What explains variation in the institutional strength of national human rights institutions across borders? The project makes two main contributions to the scholarship on international organisation and cross-border diffusion: the dataset of institutional design features, which operationalizes and measures six different dimensions of an institutional design index on the basis of report-based and survey data, is the first global dataset of its kind. Institutional strength is the original dependent variable that represents an index of six design features, as a synthesis of main mandated functions: 1) de jure legal independence; 2) nature of the mandate; 3) autonomy from government control; 4) predominant de facto duties; 5) pluralism of representation; and 6) staff and financial resources. Institutional strength is a ranked categorical variable with three values (weak, medium, strong). An additional contribution is the explanatory framework, which derives a number of hypotheses about global and regional determinants of institutional design from four main mechanisms that draw respectively on domestic and international, as well as material and social, factors (socialisation, incentive-setting, cost & benefit calculations and domestic identity). The global analysis has found statistically significant evidence that participation in the United Nations-led peer-review process for national human rights institutions accreditation makes countries more likely to have stronger institutions. This is in line with recent work about the role of UN-led peer review processes and provides support for socialisation and acculturation explanations that are facilitated by a global network. At the regional level, social learning and acculturation across borders takes place in regions with high density of strong such human rights institutions (i.e. Europe and the Americas) and where more ‘early adopting’ countries are located. Countries with strong democratic identities, which established their human rights institutions prior to 1990, are both more likely to have strong institutions themselves and to motivate other governments to follow their lead. The analysis of global trends finds also that incentivesetting plays a role both at the global and the regional levels, as countries that receive higher amounts of Overseas Development Assistance from the United States or states that are subjected to EU membership conditionality are more likely to have stronger human rights institutions. The project follows a nested multi-method research design, which begins with a quantitative analysis of global trends as a backdrop for a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) focused on Europe, complemented by illustrative country institutional case studies. QCA finds two paths that are sufficient for European countries to establish strong institutions. Thirteen case studies present illustrative evidence of the QCA findings at the country/institution level.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Corina Lacatus
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Sedelmeier, Uli
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3534

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