When Global Becomes Municipal: US Cities Localizing Unratified International Human Rights Law

Heidi Nichols Haddad
2021 European journal of international law  
International human rights law is most efficacious when it is both incorporated into domestic law and translated into local contexts. Yet, cities as independent implementers of unratified international law have received limited scholarly attention. This article examines such renegade municipal localization of international law through an analysis of San Francisco and Los Angeles's binding ordinances implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
more » ... Against Women (CEDAW) – a treaty to which the United States in not a party. The analysis demonstrates that municipal ordinances in US charter cities are robust legal mechanisms that can help actualize human rights in large urban populations, despite national inaction. Nonetheless, municipal localization of unratified international law – in both the content of the ordinances and their implementation over time – is driven predominantly by local context and city politics rather than conformity to the international treaty on which the ordinances are based. While this importantly demonstrates that unratified international law can be made relevant to cities, the insularity of local ordinances can also result in limited accountability for non-implementation and the ordinances evolving apart from international treaty developments.
doi:10.1093/ejil/chaa082 fatcat:ztvdw6gz4rb33akooigzaqahi4