Minority rights constitute some of the most normatively and economically important human rights. Although the political science and legal literatures have proffered a number of constitutional and institutional design solutions to address the protection of minority rights, these solutions are characterized by a noticeable neglect of, and lack of sensitivity to, historical processes. This Article addresses that gap in the literature by developing a causal argument that explains diverging practices of minority rights protections as functions of colonial governments’ variegated institutional practices with respect to particular ethnic groups. Specifically, this Article argues that in instances where colonial governments politicize and institutionalize ethnic hegemony in the pre-independence period, an institutional legacy is created that leads to lower levels of minority rights protections. Conversely, a uniform treatment and depoliticization of ethnicity prior to independence ultimately minimizes ethnic cleavages post-independence and consequently causes higher levels of minority rights protections. Through a highly structured comparative historical analysis of Botswana and Ghana, this Article builds on a new and exciting research agenda that focuses on the role of long-term historio-structural and institutional influences on human rights performance and makes important empirical contributions by eschewing traditional methodologies that focus on single case studies that are largely descriptive in their analyses. Ultimately, this Article highlights both the strength of a historical approach to understanding current variations in minority rights protections and the varied institutional responses within a specific colonial government.
This article proposes a way to strengthen international environmental agreements, such as the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. Multilateral environmental agreements such as these are extremely fragile. At the heart of the problem is what is known as the tragedy of the commons—a unique dynamic that viciously sabotages cooperation. The cause of this tragedy is that no one can trust that other actors will conserve the common resource, which triggers a race to the bottom—a race to deplete. Global warming and our inability to halt it is perhaps the ultimate example of a tragedy of the commons on a truly massive scale. On a domestic level, the tragedy of the commons is easily solved through regulation. However, on a supranational level, where there is no overarching authority, governance mechanisms tend to collapse. The hard truth is that without robust enforcement of some kind, international cooperation is extremely difficult to maintain. This article proposes the following idea: governments joining (or already party to) an agreement, contribute an upfront deposit to an international regulatory body (the Commons Management Fund (“CMF”)) with the understanding that their contribution will be forfeited if they fail to honor their treaty commitments. The idea, while ostensibly simple, is deceptively complex. The focus is not the penalty, but rather the ability of governments to credibly signal commitment. In game theory, credible signaling can prevent a tragedy of the commons by generating confidence that everyone will stick to their commitments. The CMF is designed to exploit this effect. Now, more than ever, a solution to the tragedy of the commons on a supranational level is desperately needed—the CMF is such a solution.