Are Dictators Immune to Human Rights Shaming?
IBEI Working Papers 2009/25
40 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 2009
This paper examines whether human rights naming and shaming destabilizes the rule of authoritarian leaders. We argue that human rights shaming can destabilize autocratic leaders by signaling international disapproval to elites in the targeted country, increasing their capacity to replace the incumbent. In personalist regimes, shaming increases the risk of irregular exit because regime elite do not have a means to peacefully replace the incumbent. Shaming campaigns also decrease foreign aid and international trade in personalist regimes, denying the leader access to resources to pay his coalition – further destabilizing his rule. In non-personalist regimes where parties or the military allow elites to peacefully replace incumbents, human rights shaming increases the risk of regular turnover of power, but has little effect on the risk of irregular exit or international flows of aid and trade. These findings have implications for understanding when and where shaming campaigns are likely to reduce or deter repression.
Keywords: dictatorship, human rights, shaming campaigns, survival, regular and irregular exit
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