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Why states comply with decisions of international human rights tribunals: A review of the principal theories and perspectives

Victor O. Ayeni


As the legalisation of international politics gain momentum through growing adoption of multilateral treaties and proliferation of intergovernmental  institutions especially administrative and judicial mechanisms for the  protection of human rights, one area of focus for scholars ought to be the incentives for states to comply with the norms and standards set by these many bodies. This paper takes the reader down memory lane by reviewing the various theories and perspectives of leading scholars on why states  comply with international law with particular focus in the concluding part on why states comply with decisions of international human rights bodies. The paper concludes that while most scholars generally agree that state  compliance is driven by instrumental or normative considerations or both, it remains largely contested which of these broad theories account for most acts of compliance by state actors. The paper argues the need for further research specific to each international and regional human rights system as the factors that drive states towards compliance differ from state to state and region to region.

Keywords: Theories, State Compliance, International Law, Human Rights Tribunals