Publications

Submitted
Simmons BA, Danner AM. Credible Commitments and the International Criminal Court. International Organization. Submitted;64(2).Abstract
The creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute war crimes poses a real puzzle. Why was it created, and more importantly, why do states agree to join this institution? The ICC represents a serious intrusion into a traditional arena of state sovereignty: the right to administer justice to one’s one nationals. Yet more than one hundred states have joined. Social scientists are hardly of one mind about this institution, arguing that it is (alternately) dangerous or irrelevant to achieving its main purposes: justice, peace, and stability. By contrast, we theorize the ICC as a mechanism to assist states in self-binding, and draw on credible commitments theory to understand who commits to the ICC, and the early consequences of such commitments. This approach explains a counterintuitive finding: the states that are both the least and the most vulnerable to the possibility of an ICC case affecting their citizens have committed most readily to the ICC, while potentially vulnerable states with credible alternative means to hold leaders accountable do not. Similarly, ratification of the ICC is associated with tentative steps toward violence reduction and peace in those countries precisely least likely to be able to commit credibly to forswear atrocities. These findings support the potential usefulness of the ICC as a mechanism for some governments to commit to ratchet down violence and get on the road to peaceful negotiations. Appendices are forthcoming and will be available for download.
Simmons BA. Norwegian Journal of Human Rights. Submitted. Appendix_Should_States_Ratify.pdf
Simmons BA. In: Milner HV, Moravcsik A Power, Interdependence, and Non-State Actors in World Politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press; Submitted.
Forthcoming
Simmons BA, Lloyd P.

Framing and Transnational Legal Organization: The Case of Human Trafficking

. In: Transnational Legal Orders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Forthcoming.Abstract
How does transnational legal order emerge, develop and solidify? This chapter focuses on how and why actors come to define an issue as one requiring transnational legal intervention of a specific kind. Specifically, we focus on how and why states have increasingly constructed and acceded to international legal norms relating to human trafficking. Empirically, human trafficking has been on the international and transnational agenda for nearly a century. However, relatively recently – and fairly swiftly in the 2000s – governments have committed themselves to criminalize human trafficking in international as well as regional and domestic law. Our paper tries to explain this process of norm convergence. We hypothesize that swift convergence on norms against human trafficking and on a particular legal solution – criminalization – is the result of a specific set of conditions related to globalization and the collapse of the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. We argue that a broad coalition of states had much to gain by choosing a prosecutorial model over one that makes human rights or victim protection its top priority. We explore the framing of human trafficking through computerized textual analysis of United Nations resolutions – the central forum for debates over the nature of human trafficking and what to do about it. We look for evidence of how the framing of human trafficking has shifted over time, and how the normative pressure as reflected in these documents has waxed and waned. We will argue that a binding legal instrument became possible because of the normative convergence solidified by linking human trafficking to transnational crime more generally.
chapter_12_lloyd_simmons_tlos.pdf
Simmons BA, Nielsen RA.

Rewards for Ratification: 

Payoffs for Participating in the International Human Rights Regime?

. Iinternational Studies Quarterly. Forthcoming.Abstract
Among the explanations for state ratification of human rights treaties, few are more common and widely accepted than the conjecture that states are rewarded for ratification by other states. These rewards are expected to come in the form of tangible benefits - foreign aid, trade, and investment - and intangible benefits such as praise, acceptance, and legitimacy. Surprisingly, these explanations for ratification have never been tested empirically. We summarize and clarify the theoretical underpinnings of "reward-for-ratification" theories and test these propositions empirically by looking for increased international aid, economic agreements and public praise and recognition following ratification of four prominent human rights treaties. We find almost no evidence that states can expect increased tangible or intangible rewards after ratification. Given the lack of empirical support, alternative explanations seem more appealing for understanding human rights treaty ratification.
nielsen_and_simmons_isq_1.pdf
Simmons BA, Kelley JG.

Politics by Number: 

Indicators as Social Pressure in International Relations.

American Journal of Political Science. Forthcoming.Abstract
The ability to monitor state behavior has become a critical tool of international governance. Systematic monitoring allows for the creation of numerical indicators that can be used to rank, compare and essentially censure states. This article argues that the ability to disseminate such numerical indicators widely and instantly constitutes an exercise of social power, with the potential to change important policy outputs. It explores this argument in the context of the United States’ efforts to combat trafficking in persons and find evidence that monitoring has important effects: countries are more likely to criminalize human trafficking when they are included in the US annual Trafficking in Persons Report, while countries that are placed on a “watch list” are also more likely to criminalize. These findings have broad implications for international governance and the exercise of soft power in the global information age.
kelley_and_simmons_ajps.pdf
Simmons BA, Charnysh V, Lloyd P.

Frames and Consensus Formation in International Relations: The Case of Trafficking in Persons

. European Journal of International Relations. Forthcoming.Abstract
This article examines the process of consensus formation by the international community on how to confront the problem of trafficking in persons. We analyze the corpus of UNGA Third Committee resolutions to show that (1) consensus around the issue of how to confront trafficking in persons has increased over time; and (2) the formation of this consensus depends on how the issue is framed. We test our argument by examining the characteristics of resolutions’ sponsors and discursive framing concepts such as crime, human rights, and the strength of enforcement language. We conclude that the consensus formation process in international relations is more aptly described as one of “accommodation” through issue linkage than a process of persuasion.
frame_and_consensus_eijr.pdf
2014
Simmons BA.

Bargaining over BITs, Arbitrating Awards: The Regime for Protection and Promotion of International Investment

. World Politics. 2014;66(1):12-46.Abstract
The regime for international investment is extraordinary in public international law and controversial in many regions of the world. This article explores two aspects of this set of rules: its decentralization and the unusual powers it gives to private actors to invoke dispute settlement. Decentralization has contributed to a competitive environment for ratification of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and has elevated the importance of dyadic bargaining power in the formation of the regime. Governments of developing countries are more likely to enter into BITs and tie their hands more tightly when they are in a weak bargaining position, which in turn is associated with economic downtowns of the domestic economy. Once committed, investors have sued governments with surprising regularity, arguably contributing disproportionately to legal awards that favor the private corporate actors who have the power to convene the dispute settlement system. One of the conclusions is that it is important not only to consider whether BITs attract capital - which hs been the focus of nearly all the empirical research on BIT effects - but also to investigate the governance consequences of the international investment regime generally.
bits_arbitration_wp_jan_2014.pdf
2013
Simmons BA.

From Ratification to Compliance: Quantitative Evidence on the Spiral Model

. In: The Persistent Power of Human Rights: From Commitment to Compliance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2013. pp. 43-59. chapter_3_quant_ev_on_spiral_model.pdf
Simmons BA, Creamer C.

Transparency at Home: How Well Do Governments Share Human Rights Information with Citizens?

. In: Transparency in International Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2013. pp. 239-267. transparency_-_proofs.pdf

Special Issue: International Relationships in the Information Age

Simmons BA, Singh JP. International Studies Review [Internet]. 2013;15(1). Publisher Website isr_preface.pdf
Simmons BA, Elkins Z, Ginsburg T.

Getting to Rights: Treaty Ratification, Constitutional Convergence, and Human Rights Practice

. International Law Journal. 2013;54(1):201-234.Abstract
This Article examines the adoption of rights in national constitutions in the post-World War II period in light of claims of global convergence. Using a comprehensive database on the contents of the world's constitutions, we observe a qualified convergence on the content of rights. Nearly every single right has increased in prevalence since its introduction, but very few are close to universal. We show that international rights documents, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have shaped the rights menu of national constitutions in powerful ways. These covenants appear to coordinate the behavior of domestic drafters, whether or not the drafters' countries are legally committed to the agreements (though commitment enhances the effect). Our particular focus is on the all-important International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose ratification inclines countries towards rights they, apparently, would not otherwise adopt. This finding confirms the complementary relationship between treaty ratification and domestic constitutional norms, and suggests that one important channel of treaty efficacy may be through domestic constitutions.
elkins_ginsburg_simmons_hilj.pdf
2012
Simmons BA, Lloyd P, Stewart B.

Combating Transnational Crime: The Role of Learning and Norm Diffusion in the Current Rule of Law Wave

. In: The Dynamics of the Rule of Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2012. pp. 153-180. Download Chapter
Simmons BA, Martin L.

International Organisations and Institutions

. In: Handbook of International Relations. Sage Publications; 2012. pp. 326-351. ch_13_-_international_os_and_is.pdf
Simmons BA.

International Law

. In: Handbook of International Relations. Sage Publications; 2012. pp. 352-378. ch_14_-_international_law.pdf
<p>Handbook of International Relations</p>

Handbook of International Relations

. 2nd ed. (Simmons BA, Carlsnaes W, Risse T). London: Sage Publications; 2012 pp. 902. Publisher WebsiteAbstract
The original Handbook of International Relations was the first authoritative and comprehensive survey of the field of international relations. In this eagerly-awaited new edition, the Editors have once again drawn together a team of the world's leading scholars of international relations to provide a state-of-the-art review and indispensable guide to the field, ensuring its position as the pre-eminent volume of its kind. The Second Edition has been expanded to 33 chapters and fully revised, with new chapters on the following contemporary topics: - Normative Theory in IR - Critical Theories and Poststructuralism - Efforts at Theoretical Synthesis in IR: Possibilities and Limits - International Law and International Relations - Transnational Diffusion: Norms, Ideas and Policies - Comparative Regionalism - Nationalism and Ethnicity - Geopolitics in the 21st Century - Terrorism and International Relations - Religion and International Politics - International Migration A truly international undertaking, this Handbook reviews the many historical, philosophical, analytical and normative roots to the discipline and covers the key contemporary topics of research and debate today. The Handbook of International Relations remains an essential benchmark publication for all advanced undergraduates, graduate students and academics in politics and international relations.
Simmons BA.

Reflections on Mobilizing for Human Rights

. Journal of International Law and Politics. 2012;44:729-750.Abstract
NYU Law's symposium "From Rights to Reality: Mobilizing for Human Rights and Its Intersection with International Law" has been a valuable opportunity to reflect on the role that international law has played in the furtherance of human rights around the world over the past six decades. It has also been a stimulating forum to assess the state of our knowledge, experience, and research relating to the development of human rights law and its application in various settings around the world. The scholars and practitioners participating in this symposium have each made remarkable contributions to the development, interpretation, and application of human rights law internationally, and I am very grateful that they have taken the time to engage the arguments and evidence in Mobilizing for Human Rights. The editors of the Journal of International Law and Politics are to be congratulated on a stimulating symposium and a valuable volume. In this concluding article, I will describe what Mobilizing for Human Rights set out to do, what I think it did well, and what it did not, in the end, accomplish. There is much to mention on both scores. While the book was one of the first comprehensive efforts to theorize and test empirically the effects of international legal agreements on a broad range of rights indicators, the research necessarily fails to speak to some issues, raises additional questions, and opens up new avenues for empirical research. I will also engage the observations of my colleagues in the symposium, whose supportive as well as skeptical views I very much appreciate. I hope to make clearer how the research potentially connects with strategies for rights improvements. I conclude on a very humble note: the experience represented by the symposium participants far outstrips the scholarly findings of the book, but I am hopeful that discussion of the kind we have had leads both to better scholarship and broadly informed practice.
simmons_-_nyu_44_3.pdf
2009
Simmons BA. Cambridge University Press; 2009.Abstract
This volume argues that international human rights law has made a positive contribution to the realization of human rights in much of the world. Although governments sometimes ratify human rights treaties, gambling that they will experience little pressure to comply with them, this is not typically the case. Focusing on rights stakeholders rather than the United Nations or state pressure, Beth Simmons demonstrates through a combination of statistical analyses and case studies that the ratification of treaties leads to better rights practices on average. Simmons argues that international human rights law should get more practical and rhetorical support from the international community as a supplement to broader efforts to address conflict, development, and democratization. Buy the Book Cambridge University Press Amazon
3.1 Survival curves 3.2 Ratification rules 3.3 Robustness checks 3.4 British correlation 3.5 Reservations 3.6 UN Conferences 5.1 Admin of justice 5.2 Death Penalty 7.1 UN investigations 7.2 High volatility regimes 7.3 Chilean court cases 7.4 Israeli court cases
2008
Simmons BA. In: Nardulli PF International Perspectives on Contemporary Democracy. University of Illinois Press; 2008. pp. 158-182.
Simmons BA, Garrett G, Dobbin F.; 2008. Website bsimmons_global_diffusion.pdf