International standards and domestic compliance: the issue of child labor

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor's Name

Francois Debrix

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Nicholas Onuf

Third Advisor's Name

Elisabeth Prügl

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis was to address the issue of non-compliance with international child labor standards in the Indian case. In order to do this I took a social constructivist approach to analyzing and explaining human behavior, utilizing methods of process tracing and secondary case study analysis. I first looked at why states ratifY treaties embodying international child labor standards but fail to comply with them. I then evaluated the viability of the popular legal positivist proposal to bring about compliance by linking non-compliance with economic sanctions. My findings demonstrated that the reason for non-compliance is that there are strong norms within the Indian social structure which support the practice of child labor, in direct contrast to the international treaties prohibiting child labor. Thus, I concluded that the linkage of non-compliance and economic sanctions would be ineffective because sanctions would do little to address the cause of the non-compliance.



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