Political institutions and human rights: Why dictatorships enter into the United nations convention against torture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

186 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article addresses a puzzle: dictatorships that practice torture are more likely to accede to the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) than dictatorships that do not practice torture. I argue the reason has to do with the logic of torture. Torture is more likely to occur where power is shared. In one-party or no-party dictatorships, few individuals defect against the regime. Consequently, less torture occurs. But dictatorships are protorture regimes; they have little interest in making gestures against torture, such as signing the CAT. There is more torture where power is shared, such as where dictatorships allow multiple political parties. Alternative political points of view are endorsed, but some individuals go too far. More acts of defection against the regime occur, and torture rates are higher. Because political parties exert some power, however, they pressure the regime to make concessions. One small concession is acceding to the CAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-101
Number of pages37
JournalInternational Organization
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Political institutions and human rights: Why dictatorships enter into the United nations convention against torture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this