Political Science Faculty Publications


CEDAW Effect: International Law’s Impact on Women’s Rights

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Evidence of demonstrable, positive effects for the United Nations' international human rights treaties has generally eluded researchers. However, the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has a statistically significant and positive effect on women's rights, even when other key factors are controlled. This result is counterintuitive, given that CEDAW's enforcement mechanisms were initially weaker than other human rights treaties. Furthermore, women's rights are implicated in deeply ingrained cultural systems that are difficult to change. This article confirms CEDAW's positive effects, finding that they are robust but not uniform. They are most pronounced for women's political rights, somewhat less pronounced for women's social rights, and absent for women's economic rights. Several possible counterexplanations for CEDAW's effects are tested but garner little support. We conclude by offering alternative hypotheses for CEDAW's effects that focus on the internal dynamics ratification may trigger within individual countries.

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"This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Human Rights, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14754835.2013.824274

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Journal of Human Rights


Taylor & Frances



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