International organizations and children’s rights : Norm adoption, pressure tactics and state compliance

Sammanfattning: Since the adoption of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the attention given by international organizations (IOs) to children’s rights has increased. This dissertation seeks to identify what this means for the global promotion of children’s rights, by addressing three interrelated questions: 1. Why do IOs adopt children’s rights norms?, 2. What tactics do IOs use to pressure for children’s rights and why?, and 3. What explains state compliance with children’s rights? These questions are studied across four self-contained essays, combining qualitative and quantitative methods, and with a particular focus on the European Union (EU). The first essay provides a within-case analysis of the mainstreaming of children’s rights across EU external policy sectors. The second essay explores the content and pressure tactics of the EU external strategies for children’s rights. The third essay offers a comparative case study of UNICEF and EU pressure tactics towards the autocratic state Vietnam. The fourth essay examines the impact of international and national factors on state compliance with children’s rights. The main findings of this dissertation are four-fold. First, several global regimes affect which children’s rights norms IOs prioritize. Second, EU external policy has increasingly adopted children’s rights but not mainstreamed the issue. Third, EU institutions provide material support to international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) in exchange for children’s rights policy advice. Fourth, state compliance with the right of the child to physical integrity is influenced by international factors (membership in a regional human rights court, development aid) and national factors (women's political participation, legal and religious contexts) but not regime type. Combined, this dissertation has two important research implications. First, it shows that institutionalist theory explains variations in IO adoption of and pressure tactics for children’s rights. Second, established explanations regarding IO pressure in the area of human rights, and regime effects on state compliance with human rights, do not hold for the case of children’s rights. With regard to policy, the main implication of this dissertation is that more pressure for child empowerment rights is needed at international and national level.