Explaining the Gap between Commitment and Compliance: International Human Rights Law in Israeli Courts

The leading models of state compliance with international human rights law (IHRL) distinguish between prescriptive status and actual compliance, and typically consider the state in a unitary manner. In this paper we develop a novel methodology for explaining with more nuance the gap between commitment and compliance within a single country case-study (Israel), focusing on the role of domestic courts. Having mapped every reference to IHRL treaties and institutions in all Israeli case-law since 1990, we conduct a qualitative content analysis of the ways the courts use IHRL in each case. This detailed, systematic analysis sheds new light on some of the techniques through which IHRL is complied with and breached in Israel, and in particular on the features of IHRL that facilitate the infringement of rights. By disaggregating among different courts and norms, as well as across time within the last 30 years, this methodology also allows us to pinpoint conditions favorable to compliance.