chapter
Introduction
Pages 14

Despite the post-war existence of an international women’s human rights regime, it is only since the 1970s, when there was a significant expansion and strengthening of this regime, that norms of sexual non-discrimination have had any effect, and even then, states have been slower to integrate these norms domestically than other human rights norms. Moreover, the record of diffusion varies greatly from one state to another. This book seeks to explain why international norms of sexual non-discrimination have diffused unevenly and why their overall impact on state behaviour has been relatively limited at a time when international human rights norms in general have increasingly defined what constitutes a legitimate state (Risse 1999: 530). It does so by tracing the diffusion of various norms relating to women’s civil, political and labour rights, and the issue of violence against women into Germany, Spain, Japan and India. The book’s central thesis is that the gender-biased corporate identity of many states represents the most significant barrier to diffusion. However, it also demonstrates the way in which particular norms have been incorporated into particular states at particular points in time as a consequence of articulated international and domestic pressure. For instance, the European Commission’s threat to initiate infringement proceedings against Germany in May 1979 for failing to implement the European Union (EU) equal pay and equal treatment directives by their designated deadlines induced a noticeable, albeit minimal, change to national legal practice.1 If we are to fully comprehend the dynamic relationship between international norms of sexual non-discrimination and state behaviour, not only do such conditions conducive to diffusion have to be identified but, because of the relatively limited impact of these norms on the whole, so too do conditions unconducive to diffusion.