Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. William Downs

Second Advisor

Dr. Jelena Subotic

Third Advisor

D. Charles Hankla


Existing research on states and human rights focuses primarily on international treaty ratification, post-treaty rating systems, and ad hoc reports on adherence in individual countries. Additionally, the literature is characterized by disproportionate attention to certain rights to the neglect of others, thereby painting an incomplete and potentially inaccurate picture of a state’s practice and implementation of human rights. Consequently, the extant literature too frequently disregards key domestic and international factors as determinants of cross-national variation in the implementation and protection of human rights, and it instead generates paradoxical claims about human rights and state behavior. With Europe as its empirical focus, this study tests one assertion that state strength relative to societal actors impacts the frequency of cases heard at the European Court of Human Rights. Findings suggest that state strength indeed plays a role in the overall number of cases from member states in the European human rights system.