The impact of human rights INGO activities on economic sanctions


What impact do human rights international non-governmental organizations (hereafter HROs) have on the initiation of economic sanctions? The extant literatures on sanctions and transnational non-state groups have largely overlooked the role, if any, the activities of these transnational non-state actors have on the use of economic coercion as a popular policy tool. In this study, we argue that HROs could affect sanction decisions through two distinct mechanisms: information production ("shaming and blaming") and local empowerment (local presence). By bringing poor human rights performers into the international spotlight, we argue that this effect should hold even after accounting for human rights practices in the targeted countries. Using dyadic data on HROs and economic sanctions, we find robust support for our basic argument that HRO activities increase the likelihood of sanction events against repressive regimes. Additionally, much of the empirical support highlights the role of information production, as opposed to local empowerment, in leading to sanction onset. Overall, our findings indicate that HROs are powerful actors in influencing foreign policy decisions between states. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Publication Title

Review of International Organizations