Explaining support for international action against human rights abusers

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How do international audiences decide whether to support action against human rights abusers? Foreign governments often respond to human rights abuses with naming and shaming, economic sanctions, or military action. Individuals make decisions about whether to support these actions with varying levels of information: Allegations might be sparse on details because of insufficient resources for reporting or because perpetrators conceal their behavior. Using a survey experiment that randomly varies the precision of details in human rights allegations, I found that respondents are highly supportive of action against human rights abusers regardless of the level of detail in reporting. Audiences especially support naming and shaming and imposing economic sanctions; they are more skeptical about intervening militarily. I found no evidence that precise fatality estimates, precise geographic location, or prompt reporting make respondents more willing to support these actions. Obfuscating details of human rights violations is not enough for perpetrators to escape international support for accountability.




Dietrich, N. (2021). Explaining support for international action against human rights abusers. Journal of Human Rights, 20(4), 414–430. https://doi.org/10.1080/14754835.2021.1938979

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