Emilie M. Hafner-Burton
Emilie Hafner-Burton is a leading young voice bringing attention to international human rights issues. She is associate professor of political science and co-director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, taught previously at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and received her PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 2012, the International Studies Association awarded her the Karl Deutsch Award for outstanding scholarship on international relations and peace research by a scholar under the age of 40.
Professor Hafner-Burton’s work brings rigorous theorizing and empirical testing to the fields of international human rights, gender, international political economy, and international law. Her numerous peer-reviewed articles have introduced new techniques for network analysis of international relations, investigated the limits of the “peace through trade” argument, and explored the expansion of gender as a focus for global diplomacy and agreements.
Her two books The Triage Strategy: Reconciling the Promise and Practice of International Human Rights Law (Princeton University Press, forthcoming) and Forced to Be Good: Why Trade Agreements Boost Human Rights (Cornell University Press, 2009) refine theories about the role of international law in promoting human rights, her carefully nuanced work calling into question a significant amount of the findings produced by leading scholars over the past twenty years. In brief, Hafner-Burton shows that although trade agreements bolster human rights in some useful ways, they are driven by politics and market power, not normative consensus. A “norm cascade” does not explain the adoption of human rights provisions in bilateral (preferential) trade agreements. Instead, human rights provisions were introduced in response to the domestic political needs of the United States and the European Union in regard to the building of trade coalitions, the negotiating strengths of America and Europe making it possible to insist on their inclusion. Similarly, her work reveals that “naming and shaming” as an international tactic to promote human rights has limited and mixed effects and is much less efficacious than actions taken to enforce trade commitments on labor rights.
At the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation, Hafner-Burton is leading a multi-year effort, with co-director David Victor, to explicate the theoretical underpinnings for international law in the social sciences literature and develop novel techniques for testing the validity of these propositions.
Jonathan Aronson is professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and professor of communication at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a member of the SSRC’s board of directors.