CAT Selection: Why Governments enter into the UN Convention Against Torture  

Vreeland, James Raymond. 2008. Political Institutions and Human Rights: Why Dictatorships enter into the United Nations Convention Against Torture. International Organization 62 (1):65-101.



    Abstract: This paper addresses a puzzle: Dictatorships that practice torture are more likely 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 where power is shared. In one-party or no-party dictatorships, few individuals defect against the regime. Consequently, less torture occurs. But dictatorships are pro-torture 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.

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