This article builds upon the observation that political rulers have to rely upon administrators to implement their policy decisions to uncover two mechanisms by which legal limits, understood in terms of fundamental human rights, can be self-enforcing. We show how the effectiveness of such legal limits depends on administrators' expectation that rights violations might be costly in the future, when the current ruler's grip on power ends. We also show how the effectiveness of legal limits depends on administrators' expectation about each others' actions when asked to execute an illegal policy, which allows for the possibility that human rights laws might induce compliance by making a particular behavior salient. The analysis contributes to a general understanding of the mechanisms by which law can effectively limit the arbitrary power of the government.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science