Formal international human rights regimes differ from most other forms of international cooperation in that their primary purpose is to hold governments accountable to their own citizens for purely domestic activities. Why would governments establish an arrangement that invades domestic sovereignty in this way? Current scholarship suggests two explanations. A realist view asserts that the most powerful democracies seek to externalize their values, coercing or enticing weaker and less democratic governments to accept human rights regimes. A ideational view argues that the most established democracies externalize their values, setting in motion a transnational process of diffusion and persuasion that socializes less democratic governments to accept such regimes. I propose a third, institutional liberal view. Drawing on theories of administration and adjudication developed to explain rational delegation in domestic politics, I maintain that governments delegate for a self–interested reason, namely to combat future domestic political uncertainty.
Moravcsik, Andrew. "Explaining the Emergence of Human Rights Regimes: Liberal Democracy and Political Uncertainty in Postwar Europe." Working Paper 98–17, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, December 1998.