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PODCAST: Do Self-Reporting Regimes Matter? Evidence from the Convention against Torture

PODCAST: Do Self-Reporting Regimes Matter? Evidence from the Convention against Torture

Beth Simmons, Andrea Mitchell Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

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Duration: 1:30:13


Beth Simmons will speak about her most recent research with Harvard Professor Cosette D. Creamer on Self-Reporting Regimes and the Convention against Torture. Find the full paper here and a summary below: Do Self-Reporting Regimes Matter? Evidence from the Convention against Torture

Self-reporting on implementation is common in international regulatory agreements and yet we know almost nothing about how (or whether) it works. Simmons and Creamer argue that self-reporting provides information for international and domestic audiences, with the potential to create pressure for agreement compliance. Using original data on the quality and responsiveness of reports submitted to the Committee against Torture, Simmons and Creamer tested for the causal effects of the periodic review process on the pervasiveness of torture in the reporting country. Adopting a dynamic approach to strengthen causal inference, Simmons and Creamer found that the review process in fact does reduce the incidence of torture in self-reporting states. Moreover, local media attention in reporting states spikes during the review process, consistent with a domestic mobilization mechanism. This is the first study to demonstrate the effects of self-reporting on torture outcomes. Since many international agreements are based on self-reporting, the results have broad significance for international relations.


BETH SIMMONS is the Andrea Mitchell Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She was formerly the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in the Department of Government. She has taught international relations, international law, and international political economy at Duke University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard. Her current areas of research include cooperative approaches to counter transnational crime (human trafficking, money laundering, corruption), the development of international law with respect to foreign direct investments, and the implementation of international human rights standards in domestic law.

Her book, Who Adjusts? Domestic Sources of Foreign Economic Policy During the Interwar Years, 1924-1939, was recognized by the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 1995 as the best book published in 1994 in government, politics, or international relations. Her recent book titled Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics was published in 2009 from Cambridge University Press. It received the APSA’s Woodrow Wilson Award, the International Social Science Council’s Stein Rokkan Prize, the American Society for International Law’s Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship, and the International Studies Association’s Best Book Award. Beth Simmons has worked at the International Monetary Fund with the support of the Council on Foreign Relations Fellowship (1995-1996) and has additionally been a fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (1996-1997), Stanford University's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2002-2003), and New York University Law School’s Institute for Advanced Study of Law and Justice (2009-2010).