Academic Profile

People Feature

Ezequiel Gonzalez Ocantos

Professorial Fellow
Associate Professor (Politics)

Research Interests: The impact of international human rights law in domestic judicial politics.

I'm the Associate Professor in the Qualitative Study of Comparative Political Institutions in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and a Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College. I am interested in understanding the impact of international human rights law in domestic judicial politics. My book Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America (Cambridge University Press) argues that the diffision of international legal ideas by local activists explains why some Latin American judiciaries chose to decisively punish those responsible for serious human rights violations perpetrated during dictatorships and armed conflicts. The book won the 2017 Donna Lee Van Cott Award from the Latin American Studies Association. Part of this research also appeared in Comparative Politics (July 2014) in an article entitled 'Persuade Them or Oust Them: Crafting Judicial Change and Transitional Justice in Argentina.' I've also published about the impact of human rights trials on public opinion in The International Journal of Human Rights.

I am currently working on a second book project that examines the diffusion of the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights among Latin American high courts. The goal is to identify the domestic political conditions under which international courts find reliable partners among domestic judges, and trace the processes whereby international jurisprudence becomes a routine reference point for these judges when they seek to justify their decisions. In some contexts, the use of foreign legal instruments and ideas empowers courts. In particular, international human rights law often gives them a stronger voice in politically sensitive debates over the content and reach of fundamental rights. I am in the process of completing a database that documents trends in the citation of Inter-American Court precedents by 13 Supreme and Constitutional Courts since 1994. The project will combine this information with in-depth case studies of several Latin American high courts based on interviews with key judicial actors.

I am also part of a research team that studies the political economy of vote buying and intimidation during electoral campaigns. So far we have fielded original post electoral surveys in 12 countries across the Americas in order to explore the extent of these practices, what citizens think about them, and who gets targeted by parties. Some of our findings appeared in two articles published in the American Journal of Political Science, 'Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias: Experimental Evidence from Nicaragua' (January 2012) and 'The Conditionality of Vote Buying Norms: Experimental Evidence from Latin America' (January 2014), in a paper in Comparative Political Studies (July 2015), and in a forthcoming piece in the Latin American Research Review.

I obtained my Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2012. My thesis won APSA's 2013 Edward S. Corwin Award for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of Public Law. Before coming to Oxford I was an Assistant Professor at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City.

Ezequiel Gonzalez Ocantos

Publications

'Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America', Cambridge Studies in Law and Society, Cambridge University Press, 2016. 

(with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and David Nickerson), 'Legitimacy Buying: The Dynamics of Clientelism in the Face of Legitimacy Challenges', Comparative Political Studies, 48(9):1127-1158 , 2015. 

'Persuade Them or Oust Them: Crafting Judicial Change and Transitional Justice in Argentina', Comparative Politics, 46(4):279-298, 2014. 

(with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and David Nickerson), 'The Conditionality of Vote Buying Norms: Experimental Evidence from Latin America', American Journal of Political Science, 58(1):197-211, 2014. 

(with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, Carlos Melendez, Javier Osorio and David Nickerson), 'Vote Buying and Social Desirability Bias: Experimental Evidence from Nigaragua', American Journal of Political Science, 56(1):202-217, 2012.