Ezequiel González Ocantos | Academic Staff | Academic | Profiles
Ezequiel González Ocantos

Ezequiel González Ocantos

(Ph.D. (Notre Dame); MPhil, BA Hons (Cambridge))

Associate Professor in the Qualitative Study of Comparative Political Institutions; Professorial Fellow, Nuffield College
Comparative Politics and Government, Research Methods
Nuffield College
Office Address:
E9, Nuffield College

I am 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. In 2018 I received the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Politics and International Relations.

My research seeks to understand 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) shows 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 has won several awards: Herman Pritchett Best Book Award from the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association; Best Book Award from the Human Rights Section of the International Studies Association; and Donna Lee Van Cott Best Book Award from the Political Institutions Section of 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 two new projects. The first one tries to explain the influence of the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights among Latin American high courts. The goal is to identify the conditions under which international courts find reliable partners among domestic judges, and trace the processes whereby international jurisprudence becomes a routine reference point for local courts. This form of transjudicial communication has important implications, not only for the power of international courts, but also for the effectiveness of human rights norms. The first paper from this project is now forthcoming in International Studies Quartely.

The second project, in collaboration with Nara Pavao from the University of Pernambuco (Brazil), examines the impact of anti-corruption judicial activism in Latin America. Like never before, courts in Latin America are investigating and punishing corruption at the highest level, with far reaching implications. While some of the consequences of anti-corruption judicial activism are readily observable, others prove much more elusive, and deserve closer scrutiny. In particular, we know little about whether or how the fight against corruption led by judges and prosecutors affects public opinion. Specifically, we are interested in examining the effects of anti-corruption judcial activism on emotions, tolerance for corruption, political cyncism, and leadership preferences.

I have also co-authored a series of papers on the political economy of vote buying and intimidation during electoral campaigns. Using original post-electoral survey data from several Latin American countries, our work explores 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 recieved 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.

Curriculum vitae: Download Gonzalezocantos Online Cv (135.2KB)

Comparative Judicial Politics

Human Rights

Transitional Justice

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Comparative Politics of Latin America

Political Economy of Clientelism

Qualitative Methods in Political Science

Human rights Constitutions and Government Democracy and Democratisation Elections Institutions and organisations

Advanced Qualitative Methods

Comparative Government


I am happy to supervise students interested in comparative judicial politics, human rights, electoral corruption, qualitative methods and Latin American politics


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

Winner of the 2018 Best Book Award, International Studies Association, Human Rights Section

Winner of the 2017 H. Pritchett Best Book Award, American Political Science Association, Law and Courts Section

Winner of the 2017 Donna Lee Van Cott Best Book Award, Latin American Studies Association, Political Institutions Section

Peer-reviewed articles:

Forthcoming. "Communicative Entrepreneurs: The Case of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights' Dialogue with National Judges" in International Studies Quarterly

Forthcoming. "Compensation and Compliance: Sources of Public Acceptance of the UK Supreme Court's Brexit Decision" in Law & Society Review (with Elias Dinas)

Forthcoming. "Process Tracing and the Problem of Missing Data," in Sociological Methods and Research (with Jody LaPorte)

2018. "Remittances and Vote Buying: Experimental Evidence from El Salvador," in Latin American Research Review (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and Covadonga Meseguer)

2016. "Evaluations of Human Rights Trials and Trust in Judicial Institutions: Evidence from Fujimori’s Trial in Peru," in The International Journal of Human Rights, 20(4): 445-470

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

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

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

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

Book chapters:

Forthcoming. "Courts in Latin America," in G. Prevost and H. Vanden eds. Oxford Encyclopedia of Latin American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Forthcoming. “Formulating Research Questions and Designing Research Projects: Notes and Advice from a Qualitative Analyst,” in L. Curini and R. Franzese Jr. eds. SAGE Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations.Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

Forthcoming. “Electoral Fraud,” in E. Posada-Carbó & A. Robertson eds. The Oxford Handbook of Revolutionary Elections in the Americas. Oxford: Oxford University Press (with Svitlana Chernykh)

2017. “Political Clientelism,” in W. Outhwaite & S. Turner eds. The SAGE Handbook of Political Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE (with Paula Muñoz)

2015. “Dependencia y Autonomía,” in M. D’Alessandro & G. Ippolito-O’Donnell eds. La ciencia política de Guillermo O’Donnell. Buenos Aires, Argentina: EUDEBA

2010. “Crisis de gobernabilidad en América Latina: Juegos verticales y horizontales,” in F. Barrero & S. Jost eds. Estabilidad democrática en América Latina: Equilibrio de poderes, perspectivas teóricas. Bogotá, Colombia: Fondo Editorial de la Universidad Sergio Arboleda. (with Carlos Meléndez)

Commissioned academic reports:

2016. Informe Especial sobre Libertad del Sufragio en Mexico. Mexico: Institito Nacional Electoral (with Chad Kiewiet de Jonge and Javier Osorio)

2013. Avances y obstáculos en el juzgamiento de graves violaciones de derechos humanos y crímenes internacionales en América Latina. Informe presentado a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos en audiencia temática regional durante el 149 período de sesiones.(with Due Process of Law Foundation, Instituto de Defensa Legal, FESPAD, Centro de Derechos Humanos Universidad Diego Portales, and Fundación Myrna Mack)

2012. Aproximación a las percepciones de la ciudadanía sobre la compra de votos y la intimidación de votantes en el régimen político guatemalteco. Cdad. de Guatemala, Guatemala: National Democratic Institute. (with Carlos Meléndez, Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, Javier Osorio and David Nickerson)

Working papers:

“International Law and Domestic Judicial Power: Strategic Citation in the Jurisprudence of Colombia’s Constitutional Court” (with Niels Goet), under review

“Carrots and Sticks: Experimental Evidence of Vote Buying and Voter Intimidation in Guatemala” (with Carlos Meléndez, Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, Javier Osorio and David Nickerson), under review

“Conceptualizing and Measuring Legal Cultures: Evidence from a Survey of Mexican Judges” (with Karina Ansolabehere and Sandra Botero), under review

"Fighting Corruption, Curbing Cynicism? The Public Opinion Effects of Anti-Corruption Judicial Activism in Latin America" (with Nara Pavao)

"Defending the European Court of Human Rights: What Arguments Work?" (with Elias Dinas)


Selected Publications