When everyone agrees: human rights norms on women and children and their effects on health

Heather Smith-Cannoy, Wendy H. Wong, Arjumand Siddiqi, Christopher Tait, Abtin Parnia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What are the effects of international human rights norms? This paper links the creation of two human rights treaties, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to health indicators that signal whether well-being for women and children is improving. These two conventions are of particular interest because nearly all countries in the world are parties to both treaties, which attests to their strength as international norms. Using two new methodologies–ITSA and Joinpoint analysis, we show that both CRC and CEDAW have demonstrable and significant effects across a variety of relevant health indicators and have had effects in countries regardless of region, level of development, and regime type. Thus, our paper is one of the first to link the existence of norms with cross-national effects on the ground within countries not as rules to be enforced, but rules that have effects outside of courts or political offices that create changes for individual well-being beyond the treaties and law themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1537-1571
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Human rights
  • children’s rights
  • global norms
  • women’s rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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