Distinguished Speaker Event: Erik Voeten Nov. 15, 2019

Professor Erik Voeten from Georgetown University gave a talk titled: Public Opposition to Human Rights Adjudication in National and European Courts on November 15, 2019 as the Distinguished Speaker Guest to the Department of  Political Science (photos below).





Erik Voeten is the Peter F. Krogh Professor of Geopolitics and Justice in World Affairs at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government. He teaches classes on international relations theory, international institutions, and statistical methods.

He is the Editor of International Organization, and is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and Review of International Organizations. He is Co-Editor and Founder of Research and Politics.

Voeten is the Co-Editor of the Washington Post blog, The Monkey Cage, and his regular contributions can be found here. He has also contributed to the The New York Times, CNN, BBC radio, and NPR.

Follow Voeten on Twitter: @ErikVoeten

Read more about Voeten’s scholarship:


Public Opposition to Human Rights Adjudication in National and European Courts

Mikael Rask Madsen (University of Copenhagen), Juan Mayoral (University of Copenhagen), Anton Strezhnev (New York University), and Erik Voeten (Georgetown University).


Do people become less willing to accept a court ruling that protects the rights of an unsympathetic individual if it comes about through an international court overruling a national court? Public opposition to international courts can stem from procedural preferences for national over international institutions and from more substantive concerns over the outcomes of rulings. In practice, these two motivations may be difficult to disentangle. Opposition to international human rights protections may originate in sovereignty concerns as well as a dislike for protecting individuals deemed unworthy. Yet, these motivations are conceptually distinct and have different implications for the legitimacy of international and national courts. We design a series of survey experiments in five European countries (Denmark, France, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom). The vignettes vary whether an international court overrules a national court (subsidiarity treatment) and whether an applicant wins the case (outcome treatment). In the primary vignette, the applicant, a foreign criminal, is unsympathetic to most people but especially to right-wing authoritarians, who have been most critical of international courts and liberal institutions more generally. The other vignettes include applicants that are more sympathetic to the authoritarian right (an individual who burns Korans) or the left (a tenant who is evicted). We pre-register heterogeneous treatment effects, including whether people with more right-wing authoritarian and nationalist attitudes are indeed more likely to be moved by an international court overruling a national court? In a pilot study in the United Kingdom, we find that the substantive concerns dominate. We find some evidence that subsidiarity concerns matter for individuals who believe that the domestic legal system is working well. However, we find that most people are perfectly willing to support a European court that overrules a national court as long as it delivers the result they want. One implication is that public opposition to national and international human rights adjudication may have similar causes.

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