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Why some countries comply with international norms against the death penalty while others do not.
Despite public support for the death penalty, a remarkable number of countries in different parts of the world have banned capital punishment in all its forms, regardless of the nature of the crime or the criminal. Arguing that international norms are often a critical source of ideas for change in state policy, but that impact varies greatly, Sangmin Bae offers a systemic explanation of how, when, and under what conditions a country complies with international norms. She examines four countries that reached different stages of norm compliance with respect to the death penalty—Ukraine, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States. Focusing on the role of political leadership and domestic political institutions, Bae clarifies the causal mechanisms that lead to state compliance or noncompliance with the norm.
“Overall Bae’s work is highly instructive. Its comprehensive, multidimensional approach presents detailed accounts of the individual case studies, their political background, history of international norm compliance, and human rights record. The chapters are highly readable, making this book appropriate for an undergraduate audience … This volume is also highly recommended to scholars of human rights, comparative politics, and political scientists in general, given the combination of methodologies and Bae’s presentation of the abolition of the death penalty as a truly multifaceted issue.” — H-Net Reviews
“The author has an excellent grasp of the work done on the death penalty and has applied the main arguments to regions outside Europe that deserve more attention and exploration. Her interesting conclusions provide an important basis for further research.” — Agata Fijalkowski, Lancaster University Law School
Sangmin Bae is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northeastern Illinois University.
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables
1. INTRODUCTION: PROHIBITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY AS A HUMAN RIGHTS NORM
International Standards Prohibiting Capital Punishment
International Norms in International Relations Research
Methodological and Analytical Issues
The Council of Europe and the Death-Penalty-Free Zone
Political Turbulence and Rising Crime Rates
Ukraine’s Resistance to the Council of Europe
Public Opinion on the Death Penalty Controversy
The Process of Enforcing the Council of Europe Norm
Conditions for Death Penalty Reform
3. SOUTH AFRICA
Capital Punishment under Apartheid
The Abolitionist Movement and the Role of External Donors
The Moratorium on Executions
Political Transformation and Criminal Society: “Crime is Out of Control!”
The Constitutional Court’s Ruling on the Death Penalty
Post–Death Penalty Abolition Years: The Debate Continues
Who and What Played the Major Roles?
Conclusion: The Politics of Principle
4. SOUTH KOREA
Dictatorship, Economic Miracle, and Human Security (1948–1987)
Democratic Transition and the Continuing Use of the Death Penalty (1987–1997)
The Emergence of the Abolitionist Movement
Changing Political Conditions for Death Penalty Abolitionism (1998–Present)
The Abolitionist Camp: Catholic Church, Amnesty International, and Legislators
Why Not Abolition Right Now?
5. UNITED STATES
“American Exceptionalism” and International Pressure
Do Crime Rates Matter?
The Vigilante Tradition
Racial Prejudice and Injustice
Why More after the 1980s?: The Era of Heightened Inequality and Punitiveness
Anti–Death Penalty Activism
Public Support for the Death Penalty: A Constant Variable
The Peculiarity of the U.S. Political Institutions
Is Political Leadership a Remaining Virtue?
Ways of Norm Compliance: Ukraine, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States
Conditions for Norm Compliance
Causal Mechanisms of Norm Compliance
Conclusion: Extending the Argument