Database of U N Human Rights Agreements

Tricky Countries

While creating this database, I had to make some decisions about countries that dissolved, united, or underwent some other important transformation between 1948 and 2015. There are two components here: which country (COW) code to assign, and whether former treaty commitments (or lack thereof) carry forward after the transformation. These ‘tricky countries’ are as follows:

  1. West Germany (FRG)/Unified Germany (FRG). Because West Germany’s treaty commitments carried forward upon unification, I use the code 260 throughout. In this sense, unified Germany’s treaty ‘clock’ does not restart in 1990. You may need to use the alternate COW code of 255 if merging with Polity and/or other sources. The database includes 255 as the alternate COW code.
  2. Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic/Slovak Republic). Czechoslovakia (COW code 315) was a UN member from 1945 to 1992. Because the country ceased to exist on December 30, 1992 and neither new country appears to have carried forward those treaty commitments, it does not continue in the dataset after that year. The Czech Republic (316) and the Slovak Republic (317) enter the dataset in 1993. This is consistent with Polity.
  3. Yugoslavia and all that followed. Yugoslavia (345) was a member of the UN from 1945 to 1991. That country dissolved in 1991/92, although there is some question about whether its treaty commitments carried forward to the country that eventually became known as The Former Yugoslavia, then Serbia & Montenegro, and finally Serbia. From what I can decipher, the treaty commitments did not automatically carry forward. Hence, Yugoslavia gets a code of 345 until 1991, and 347 thereafter. The database lists alternate COW codes of 347 until 1991 and 345 thereafter, in case this is useful to the user. This is the most complex country to code in the dataset from this perspective, so please email me if you have any insight.
  4. USSR, Russian (Federation). The USSR dissolved in 1991, but Russia (365) carried forward its treaty commitments. Accordingly, I use the code 365 throughout, and do not consider its treaty ‘clock’ to restart in 1992. 364 is the alternate code, as in Polity.
  5. Montenegro. joined the UN in 2006. This country’s code is 341, as in the COW data. For some reason, the Polity code is different (348) so I list this as the alternate.
  6. Ethiopia. After Eritrea's secession in 1993, Ethiopia's treaty commitments carried forward for Ethiopia. Hence, the code of 530 carries forward to present. 529 is the alternate COW code, as in Polity.
  7. North Yemen, Yemen. When North and South Yemen merged in 1990, North Yemen's treaty commitments appear to have carried over. Hence I use the COW code of 679. 678 is the alternate code, as in Polity.
  8. Pakistan. East Pakistan seceded from its union with West Pakistan in 1971 (and became Bangladesh). It appears that West Pakistan (now Pakistan)'s treaty commitments carried forward. Therefore I use the COW code of 770 throughout. 769 is the alternate code, as in Polity.
  9. Viet Nam. North and South Viet Nam unified in 1975, and it appears that North Vietnam’s treaty commitments carried forward. Following COW, I assign it a code of 816. The alternate COW code (which Polity uses post-1975) is 818.
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