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The limits of hegemonic power: the United States' failure to change international human rights norms during the War on Terror

Geyer, Juliana (2023) The limits of hegemonic power: the United States' failure to change international human rights norms during the War on Terror. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Traditionally, hegemons have enjoyed a level of overwhelming power and influence within the international order. As a result, the United States, the current global hegemon, was able to shape the development of the modern international system to reflect its goals and reward agreement with its objectives and values. During the War on Terror, the US used its hegemonic power to attempt to change legal physical integrity norms in the form of the terrorist exception and the redefinition of torture. However, it was unsuccessful at effecting this change. Thus, this poses the question: why was the US, functioning as a hegemon, unable to change physical integrity norms during the War on Terror? This paper provides six possible explanations for US failure: the privatization of human rights oversight mechanisms, limited US participation in the international human rights regime, the double standards of US domestic and international conduct, US belief in the sufficiency of domestic rights protections, regional human rights regimes, and the ineffectiveness of US norm revisionism tools. This failure likely indicates a limit to hegemonic power more broadly as well as the resilience of the international human rights regime. It also indicates that hegemonic exceptionalism can result in a loss of influence and thus create a limit to power.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Geyer, Julianajlg212@pitt.edujlg212
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCondra, Luke Nlcondra@pitt.edulcondra
Committee MemberGoodhart, Michaelgoodhart@pitt.edugoodhart
Committee MemberCavanaugh,
Committee MemberHaas, Melindamhh34@pitt.edumhh34
Date: 24 April 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 21 March 2023
Approval Date: 24 April 2023
Submission Date: 18 April 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 113
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: hegemony, political science, international relations, human rights, legal norms, norm change, war on terror, torture, physical integrity rights, united states
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2023 17:17
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2023 17:17


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