Leadership Change and Human Rights Violations
Posted: 16 Jan 2010 Last revised: 21 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 20, 2014
We investigates how leadership change influences the use of governmental repression of human rights to physical integrity. We argue that the disparity in information between the leader and the opposition causes human rights abuses to occur. Such abuses should never occur when both groups have perfect information. To assess this argument we construct an information-based theory of leadership change and repression and derive several hypotheses. Using new latent variable estimates of repression (1949-2010), we find that countries that experience an extra-constitutional leadership change see an initial spike in governmental repression, which decays over time. Leader transitions that occur through normal institutionalized mechanisms have little impact on the level of governmental human rights practices. We demonstrate the robustness of the results with two treatment effect models. This research provides new insights into the processes by which leaders make political choices as they work to consolidate power after extra-constitutional leadership change. We demonstrate further that these choices change over the course of the leader's tenure.
Keywords: human rights, leadership change, regime change
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